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Pakistani Foreign players: Not good enough?
Is the left-back not good enough for Pakistan?

Pakistani Foreign players: Not good enough?

By Shahrukh Sohail, Senior Correspondent, Islamabad

Is the left-back not good enough for Pakistan?

Humbled and outclassed by Singapore, Pakistan’s senior team was verbally blasted by fans from all walks of life.

Some labelled them as ‘good for nothings’, while others called for players who could play ‘real football’.

Foreign-based players were mostly to blame according to the vibrant commenting on’s Facebook page. Allegedly, these professionals, who are plying their trade in Danish, Norway, English and Asian Leagues need to attend 15-20 day ‘camps’ in order to get accustomed to the playing style and their domestic counterparts.

Excuse me, but which primitive age are you and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) living in??

Where in the world do you see this happening? ‘Camps’ are a thing of the past, there’s a blatant reason why proper football competitions run 9 months and not on an ad-hoc basis like our current Pakistan Premier League.

Yes, the foreign-based footballers need some time to adjust, but for that, FIFA has regular match dates, which our Federation and fans tend to forget about.

From December 2011, to October 2012, there was no senior match being played, but yet the supporters are adamant with that with the inclusion of Zesh Rehman, Shabir Khan, Hassan Bashir, Muhammad Ali, Yousuf Butt and Adnan Ahmed, the side will beat a team like Singapore, which have been consistently playing at the highest level and preparing for their AFC Suzuki Cup challenge.

Unreal expectations at their best.

Another unfathomable comment was levied at perhaps one of the best players Pakistan has had in recent times.

Adnan Ahmed, a midfield maestro and the only person capable enough to marshal troops in the middle of the park, was criticized by a fan, who also went onto to claim that Zavisa Milosavljević should have selected KRL’s injured Yasir Afridi instead.

Wait. What?

Adnan, who grew up while playing for 19-time English champions Manchester United’s famed youth academy and had the honour of partnering the likes of Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson, played for former Hungarian champions Ferencvárosi TC and Huddersfield Town in his later years, be waived aside because of a player like Yasir Afridi, who fails to light up even the mediocre PPL?

Clearly, even Zavisa would have laughed at this proposition.

Adnan’s unfortunate injury in practice game against a Singapore Selection XI meant he missed the actual friendly against Singapore. Without his reassuring midfield presence, Pakistan was played off the park by the hosts.

However, the debate goes on. Kaleemullah, who has managed to net nearly six hat tricks in the Premier League, has always failed to perform on the International front. This is a clear example of the gaping difference between our standards and the rest of the world.

You can’t expect foreign players to line-up and then perform. However, if you give them regular game time and utilize their skills on every FIFA Match date, only then will the Pakistan National Team ever prosper.

Local players will never be the solution to the problem unless the PFF takes a radical new approach and makes significant changes, which is something very few of us expect and even fewer understand.

PPL fan boys watch a match or two and then randomly throw in names that they think should start, whether it is the immense popularity of Muhammad Rasool, or the consistent backing received by former skipper Muhammad Essa. That, however, can’t be the motto anymore.

The only way forward at the moment would be calling up our foreign stars, getting in a few practise sessions to increase team chemistry and playing regularly, with the latter being the most important.

As it stands, the line-up should be favourable for Pakistan; it should not be a case of local talent vs. foreigners. And only a hand few from the PPL can be expected to start if all of the foreigners are called for duty and Zavisa gets to know them on the field.

A proposed starting eleven, which can help us improve our rankings if given the right time and facilities, is listed below.

Yousuf Butt (GK)

Zesh Rehman – Amjad Iqbal – Nabil Aslam – Shabir Khan

Luke Dean/Atif Bashir

Kaleemullah                                                    Rizwan Asif

Adnan Ahmed

Hassan Bashir-Muhammad Ali

About Shahrukh Sohail

SRJ or more commonly referred to as Shahrukh outside FootballPakistan, is the current Chief Editor of FPDC and die-hard supporter of the Pakistan National Football Team. Away from Pakistani football, Shahrukh is an entrepreneur, a student and enjoys dominating the right-flank on the pitch.


  1. local boys Kamran Khan, Muhammad Ahmed are good defender and in midfield we have Jadeed Khan, Faisal Iqbal (miserably ignored during Singapur tour) Adil and Mehmood Khan may be added with foreign players.

    • kamran is good no doubt..ahmed isnt a defender..faisal adil and mahmood have .been regulars since 2011 olympic qlfrs but nothing impressive..only adil is good but only as a winger but in centre of midfield likes of faisal and mahmood lack technicall and physically to compete physically… not sure how much more they can improve considering they have played regular for last 2years..

      • Exactly our point. They are good, but they aren’t improving because of the local system, and compared to them, the foreign players are more technically strong.


          • no one1 is doubting the talent of the players you mentioned but its just about putting the best team out there for the sake of pakistan..rasool hasnt fired lately for pakistan while new players hassan bashir and ali have had good impact although yet to score..however i think rasool playing with them will be good for the team. you have got ur info wrong..the foreign players always attend camps, before saff cup they attended camp, before challenge cup they attended camp, before world cup qualifiers they attended camp..yes sometime some clubs release players late and there is not much one can do. for this singapore game it was on non fifa date so players could only come when agreed with clubs.. even locals had 3day camp for it..

            rasool is good, so is yasir afridi..and if by ehsan u mean ehsanullah..then no chance..he is not as good as them in terms of quality..

          • all these foreign player,s should spent atleast 2 month,s wd our national hero,s like muhammad rasool,faisal iqbal,kaleemullah and the rest of the guy,s so that they understand each other as essa understand rasool on which ball he often clicks and zia us salam understands the favourite balls for kaleemullah,,,so all these player,s spent sometime wd each other atleast a month before any tournament.

          • But the problem is that how can professional players from Europe come for 1 month. Only players from Nordic countries can come, as they have the winter off.

          • Latest Fifa Ranking Pakistani team rank 189. On Pakistani football history very low rank. What wil be future of Pakistani football team.

          • Unrealistic demand for a “2 month camp”. Camps are useless. Demanding more international friendly games (at least 3-4 a year) is much more realistic.

            Because if Rasool and Kaleemullah etc were so good in coordination with Zia us Salam etc then Kaleem would have scored at least one goal for Pakistan U22s in Al-Naqba Tournament and AFC U22 qualifiers when no foreigner was called up. But he didn’t, so what does that tell you? The opposition defence which Kaleem etc face in PPFL is of extremely poor standard!

            We’ll say it time and again, but the standard of football at domestic level is PATHETIC.

          • Excellent , talented players. Yes, of course. Muhammad Rasool is very good. And so is Yasir Afridi, but the point is not their talents at local level, I compared them to players from Europe. Then players like Adnan, Hassan, Atif and Shabir have the edge.

          • please tell us Faik, when was the last time a “camp” has made Pakistan a success in international football? Only practice, more games, and true competition for places does!


    • Actually we do. Yasir Afridi has been struggling with injuries and Rasool hasn’t managed to score in Internationals. We need players like Hassan Bashir and Muhammad Ali to score goals.

    • the PPFL makes everyone look good. but it doesnt show the truth about just how bad the domestic league is. Look at KRL, they boss everyone in PPFL but look how they have failed to score even a single goal in AFC President’s Cup this year!!! This is more than proof that unless you reform the league the domestic talent will never reach the same level as even the semi-pro leagues of Europe!

      • Any foreign player not playing higher then division 3 of UK, Spain, Italy or Germany will not be good enough to play against teams such as Singapore. There is really not much difference between the current local players and foreign players, I really believe that.

        • Shaan. There is a world of difference between the current local and foreign players. Our PPL boys will hardly make it in any South Asian League, let alone Europe. Observe during matches and you will understand.

  3. Guys..pointless arguement if u dont understand the fact that all our local players are good for so far called ppl or ppfl..not beyond and if u r expecting them to win major. tournement for us..its like elephent beaten by an ant..comparisn and as a coach.. these foriegn players are more sound n better..but to get them click.. we need to. ring them togather..let them b for a as many as posible frienlies or practice. or tournement…but make a formatio…dont change them…give them time and proper combination n practice sessions…they will beat the crap out of any asian time..and if u dont believe me..i request pff to let me handle them and provide me fund n support..and take. an asian giant from me in 6 months…thats all i can tell

  4. It all starts with the youth, footballers need to be honed from a young age, clubs need to work closely with primary and secondary schools to encourage a lot of football over cricket, the biggest problem is that kids are brought up in a culture devoid of football, they just need to see it and experience it once or twice to get them hooked.

  5. Its unfortunate but since most of these players began only a while back maybe in their late teens or early twenties they can’t be able to compete at an international standard. Generating hype and a fan base in Pakistan is crucial, so that these matches can be aired on tv or at least recorded to make a profit, giving people the incentive to play

  6. Pakistan played two friendly matches against Nepal from 6 feb & 9 feb 2013.

  7. i’m a singaporean and i have my roots in pakistan. my wife is frm karachi. i wld like to contribute to the development of pakistan soccer. i m a soccer player myself. is it possible for me to play for pakistan or how do i go about?

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