Lahore, 15 March: It will be Tariq Lutfi vs Bob Houghton as coaches when the 23rd international soccer encounter between Pakistan and India will be recorded in the fourth AFC Challenge Cup Qualifier on 23 March at Kuala Lumpur. Pakistan are clubbed in Group B and they will take on Turkmenistan on March 21 before locking horns with India, followed by Chinese Taipei (March 25).
Bob included Secundrabad-born Sunil Chhetri who visited Pakistan during 9th SA Games 2004 and scored his first international goal against Pakistan on 12 June 2005 at Ayub Stadium, Quetta. Having scored twice in 15th Asian Cup at Qatar last January, he received much media attention after scoring a hat-trick in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, which led to an unsuccessful trial at English club Coventry City and speculation linking him with many European and North American clubs.
India is said to have been interested to host the Group B, but due to Pakistan being in the same group the continental body played it safe and is hosting it in the country that it is based in – Malaysia. Group A will be hosted in Yangon by Myanmar with host, Bangladesh, Palestine and Philippines Group C will be hosted by Maldives in Male. The teams are: Maldives, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia while Group D will be played in Kathmandu, Nepal with host, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and the winners of the pre-qualification match between Bhutan and Afghanistan. Two teams from each group qualify for the eight team finals. The hosts of the finals will only be decided by the AFC once all the eight qualifiers are decided and one of these nations would host the tournament.
Meanwhile, Pakistan chopped down the squad to twenty two from the 37 probables while India left out most of the younger players, who featured in the Olympic qualifiers against Myanmar, in the 23-member squad announced for the coming show. AIFF had announced 44 probables but pruned down the squad to 23. Those from the Olympic qualifiers team which made it to the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers include Raju Gaekwad and his club mates Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Shilton D’Silva, Jewel Sheikh Raja, Jeje Lalpekhulua and Viva Kerala player CS Sabeeth. The squad still have senior players in the likes of Subrata Pal, Sunil Chhetri, Anwar, Syed Rahim Nabi, Gouramangi Moirangthem and Steven Dias.
The Probables of both teams:
Goalkeepers (2): Amir Gul (NBP), Muhammad Omar (KESC)
Defenders (5): Manzoor Ahmed (WAPDA), Alamgir Khan (Police), Atif Bashir Qureshi (Barry Town, Wales), Samar Ishaq (KRL), Zeeshan Rehman (Muangthong United FC, Thailand),
Midfielders (8): Faisal Iqbal (NBP), Syed Arif Hussain (WAPDA), Muhammad Adil (KRL), Mahmood Khan (KRL), Kashif Mumtaz Siddiqui (Fresno Fuego, USA), Abdul Aziz (NBP), Nasr Ullah Khan (PIA), Adnan Farooq Ahmed (Aboomoslem FC, Iran),
Strikers (7): Saddam Hussain (PIA), Jadeed Khan Pathan (WAPDA), Rizwan Asif (KRL), Kalim Ullah (KRL), Imran Niazi (WAPDA), Arif Mehmood (WAPDA), Muhammad Qasim (KRL).
Goalkeepers (3): Arindam Bhattacharya, Subrata Pal, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Defenders (9): Anwar, Nirmal Chhetri, Denzil Franco, Raju Gaekwad, NS Manju, Nalappan Mohanraj, Syed Rahim Nabi, Gouramangi Moirangthem, Govin Moirangthem.
Midfielders (7): Joaquim Abranches, Shilton D’Silva, Steven Dias, Rakesh Masih, Jewel Sheikh Raja, Baldeep Singh, Jagpreet Singh
Strikers (4): Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhulua, CS Sabeeth, Sushil Kumar Singh.