KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) plans to hold the national team’s camp for the Lesotho tour in the first week of August, a top official of the federation said on Monday.
“Most probably the camp will be held in the first week of August,” PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told this correspondent from Lahore.According to the plan, a copy of which has been got by this correspondent, the camp is scheduled to start on August 1 for the tour. Pakistan will play two matches against the African nation on August 13 and 16.
This will be the first time Pakistan will be playing against Lesotho, a team which is ranked 161st in the world, but has improved a lot recently due to sufficient international exposure. Lesotho played well in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, but did not qualify from their group in the second round, which also had Ghana, Zambia and Sudan.
The Lesotho tour has been arranged to prepare the Green-shirts for the SAFF Cup, which will be hosted by Nepal from September 1-11.Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic will be supervising the team for the tour.
Zavisa, who has been serving as Pakistan coach since November 2011, will arrive in Pakistan from Serbia at the end of this month. He has been undergoing UEFA Pro License course in Serbia.
Foreign-based players are also expected to be part of the Pakistan team for the tour. “Zavisa says that foreign players are also coming. Those foreign-based players who don’t go to Lesotho will not be considered for the SAFF Cup,” Lodhi said.
Pakistan have a rich pool of players playing on the foreign soil. The most prominent of them are Danish strikers Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Ali, goalkeeper Yousuf Ejaz Butt, defender Yaqoob Ejaz Butt and England-based left-back Shabbir Khan, midfielder Adnan Farooq, Atif Bashir and Hong Kong-based professional defender Zeeshan Rehman.
Zeeshan is not in the good books of the PFF because of his lack of commitment. Whenever the team needed him he did not respond properly.Lodhi also said that the foreign players would have to join the camp in time. “Those who will join the camp will be picked in the team,” said Lodhi.
The SAFF Cup will be a big challenge for Zavisa who has been under fire since Pakistan’s humiliating exit from the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan a few months ago.
It was expected after Pakistan’s downfall in the qualifiers that Zavisa would be fired but the terms of his contract made it difficult for the PFF. His contract will expire in November this year.
Pakistan are also expected to face United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai after the SAFF Cup.Pakistan have never won SAFF Cup, the most important South Asian tournament. India have won it six times while Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh have won it once each.