Position: Defensive Midfielder
Club: FC Dordoi Bishkek
Previous Club (s): KRL FC, PIA FC
Saddam Hussain, no not that one but the midfield dynamo from Malir who has become a fan favourite for Pakistanis after some breath-taking displays. His name usually brings a chuckle from the opposition fans and on social media circles when Pakistan play, but on the pitch he shows those fans what he is really about. A no-nonsense kind of a midfielder who enjoys defensive duty as much as offensive, breaks up plays, contributes to the attacking play and often chips in with goals.
Saddam grew up in Malir, born into a Baloch family and like many others football was his passion from an early age, coming through the ranks of age group teams of Pakistan and playing for PIA, he quickly convinced coaches and fans that he had a bright future in the game.
He made his Pakistan U-23 debut in the 2010 Asian Games followed by Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia; it was visible to all that Saddam was something different to the typical midfield men Pakistan have produced in the past. When his PIA and national team coach moved to KRL, Saddam followed him and ushered a new era of success and trophies for the Kahuta-based side.
Saddam has been a regular ever since at the U22, U23 and senior team but is yet to enjoy the success he has had at club level, from winning the league, cup and reaching the final of the AFC President Cup.
Saddam has been a reassuring force in a team’s midfield that is usually weak and often gets very little of the ball due to the direct playing style and ends up chasing most of the game. The defensive midfielder was on excellent form especially in the 2013 SAFF Championship alongside Adnan Ahmed where the duo were able to dominate India with their break up play and creativity. However with Adnan no longer in the side, Saddam has lot more on shoulders and must step up and deliver against Yemen where Pakistan are likely to chase most of the game.
The youngster also enjoyed a stellar 2014, where Pakistan beat India U23s in Bangalore; he earned a move abroad to Dordoi Bishkek and won 2 trophies in his first 6 months.
Pakistan will be hoping Saddam can add that much needed physical presence and composure it badly needs as they look to tackle Yemen in search of their first every world cup qualifying win.
Saddam to trouble a Middle East country, again!
Club: FC Dordoi Bishkek
Previous Club (s): KRL FC, PEL FC
Muhammad Adil became the 1st Pakistani player to sign professional contract in 2014 when he joined Kyrgyz club Dordoi Bishkek, which proved to be a historic move as other countrymen followed in his footsteps in turning pro abroad, at Dordoi and elsewhere.
Adil’s story is truly inspiration and quintessentially Pakistani, starting from a humble beginning, hard work, determination and good fortune has seen him become the footballer he is today. Adil grew up in southern Punjab where he would juggle between school, football and supporting his family as a street vendor. He was spotted by PFF scouts for junior age group events; from there he made the junior national teams and progressed to play at Pakistan Premier League level for PEL and later KRL where he enjoyed unprecedented success.
The Bahawalpur-born winger has been a key feature in Pakistan senior and U23 side for a number of years and his return to the side after missing Asian Games through injury will give the Shaheens much needed impetus against Yemen in the World Cup pre-qualifier.
Adil enjoyed a successful first season abroad with Dordoi Bishkek winning 3 trophies and is now looking to build on that for 2015. Though he has continued to attract interest from other leagues in the region, he is currently content with Bishkek based club as he shifts his focus towards the national team to help the Shaheens pick up their first ever World Cup qualifying win.
The diminutive winger formed good understanding with attackers Kaleemullah and Hassan Bashir in 2013 and having enjoyed success with Kaleem at Dordoi, the winger will be hoping to continue that very rich form when they face Yemen. Moreover, Adil’s ability to play on both wings means the coach has a headache with his team selection, however on the pitch it allows Pakistan the flexibility in switching wingers and not become predictable.
Pakistan will be looking to utilise Adil’s pace as they like to play counter attacking football and the winger will be hoping he can be more clinical with his delivery. There is no doubt Pakistan missed Adil’s services at Asian Games and the friendlies that followed, however it allowed youngsters the chance to step up. But it will be Adil’s experience of international football that Pakistan would want to count on when the take the field come March the 12 in Doha.