KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) plans to arrange international friendly matches on FIFA days in September for the national senior team to prepare them for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held next year.
“Although we will not be able to organise any match on FIFA day in August — we missed the opportunity — we are planning to invite any of the South Asian countries to Lahore for matches on FIFA days in September,” PFF secretary Lt Col (Retd) Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi told ‘The News’ in an interview on Sunday.
FIFA days fall on September 7 and 11. “We have dropped emails to Afghanistan and the Maldives and are waiting for their response,” Lodhi revealed.
“Sri Lanka is also an option, but it depends on what their schedules are,” he said.
He said that the PFF would continue to try to provide maximum exposure to the team so that it could click in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in March.
Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic has invited 25 home-based players to the camp which will start at Lahore on August 25. Zavisa is currently in Serbia and will arrive in Lahore before the start of the camp.
Lodhi said that they would make efforts to avail themselves of maximum FIFA days by organising international friendlies against some good teams.
“Coach Zavisa has also suggested in his report after the Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers that Pakistan need more matches against tough teams. So our main aim is to organise matches against some tough sides as it is only by playing against strong sides that our team will develop and will know exactly what they have to do to improve,” the official said.
Zavisa is also trying to rope in foreign-based players ahead of the qualifiers. Defender Zeeshan Rehman, Atif Bashir, Adnan Ahmad, Shabbir Khan, Nabil Aslam, Hasan Bashir, Yousuf Butt and Mohammad Ali are the foreign-based players on the radar of the foreign coach.
Lodhi said that some matches of Premier League, which is going to start in the first week of September, would be rescheduled for KRL as many of their players are in the senior team so that these do not clash with the FIFA friendlies.
Lodhi said if South Asian Games were held in February, separate teams for SAG and AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers would be formed and would be given to different coaches. Zavisa would supervise the senior team and the a Pakistani coach would oversee the SAG team, he added.