Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: As many as four foreign-based players will join Pakistan team directly in the Philippines where the Green-shirts are to play a few international friendlies against different oppositions in the middle of this month.
“Yes, we will be joined in the Philippines by Zeeshan Rehman, Mohammad Ali, Hassan Bashir and goalkeeper Yousuf Butt,” Pakistan’s newly appointed Bahraini coach Mohamed Shamlan told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Wednesday.
Former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman, Denmark-based striker Hasan Bashir and Yousuf Butt were also part of Pakistan team in the SAFF Cup in Nepal recently.
Danish striker Mohammad Ali, who did not play the SAFF Cup due to an injury, will make a comeback.
The inclusion of Mohammad Ali in Pakistan’s squad will make the frontline more formidable as Shamlan has also invited Chitral-born dashing striker Mohammad Rasool to the camp, which started in Lahore on Wednesday.
Shamlan, a former international defender, seems to be a committed coach and in barely a month in Pakistan he has made great home work and knows most of the budding players of the country.
Pakistan will face Chinese Taipei on October 13 and hosts Philippines on October 15.
Shamlan said his side would also play a game on the tour against Macau. “We have invited 26 players to the camp and out of them ten belong to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL). I have also inducted in the camp a handful of new players like Mehmood Khan, Zainullah, Mohammad Rasool, Rizwan Asif, Mohammad Bilal and Syed Arif,” revealed Shamlan, who had worked as an assistant with Salman Ahmed Sharida when he was Pakistan’s coach in the 2005-06.
Rasool, who belongs to KESC, despite his wonderful striking skills, was not in the good books of former Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic and was not included in the national team for the SAFF Cup.
“I believe in quality. I have not watched Premier League matches in Karachi but I have selected players from Karachi. And slowly and gradually most of the talented stuff will come to the mainstream,” he said.
He said after the tour he would come down to Karachi and would see most of the matches of the Premier League.
Asked why he did not invite competent goalkeepers Mohammad Omar and Jehangir Khan to the camp Shamlan admitted that certainly the duo also were good keepers. “Currently we have goalkeepers Saqib Hanif and Muzammil Hussain in the camp while Denmark-based Yousuf Butt will join us in the Philippines. But in the future I can select Jehangir and Mohammad Omar also,” said Shamlan.
He said that his two tasks were to form a budding pool for the senior side and another pool of under-19 players who will gradually be groomed to form a strong back-up for future use in national senior and junior sides.
Shamlan was happy that Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) was giving him every facility. “The PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat is very supportive and I have been provided with fine facilities. I will give my hundred percent in transforming Pakistan team to a fighting lot,” said Shamlan, who was working with the Bahrain team as an assistant coach before he was appointed Pakistan coach a couple of months back.
He said that they had held training sessions both in the morning and the evening on Wednesday.
Shehzad Anwar is acting as assistant coach and Aslam Khan as goalkeeper coach. Asghar Anjum is serving as assistant manager, while Dr Kamran Mehdi is the physiotherapist.
This will be the first official trip of Shamlan as Pakistan’s head coach. He served Pakistan as advisor during SAFF Cup a few days after his arrival in Pakistan in late August.