Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s camp for the Lebanon friendly will start at Lahore on Monday (today).
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Sunday that 30 players had been invited for the camp.
The camp will be supervised by Pakistan’s Bahraini coach Mohammed Shamlan. He will be assisted by Hasan Baloch and former international defender Tanvir Ahmed. Aslam Khan will be the goalkeeping coach and Dr Kamran Mehdi the physiotherapist.
Lodhi said that the team would leave for Beirut on February 17 where the Green-shirts would face Lebanon in a FIFA friendly on February 19. They would return on the 20th, he said.
“We tried to manage a few more games against some clubs there but they could not be finalised. So our team will only play a single match on the tour,” said Lodhi.
The tour is aimed at preparing Pakistan team for the Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers and the Asian Games.
The country’s star striker Kaleemullah, Mehmood Khan, Ahsanullah and Saddam Hussain are also part of the camp.
Shamlan will miss the country’s top winger Mohammad Aadil on the tour as the Bahawalpur-born player has signed a one-year contract with Dordoi Bishkek, who are two-time champions of the AFC President’s Cup.
Aadil left for Bishkek a few days ago to join Dordoi, who are coached by Pakistan’s former coach Zavisa Milosavljevic.
Shamlan, who toured with Pakistan’s senior team to the Philippines last year as head coach, wants maximum matches for Pakistan team ahead of the two crucial assignments.
Both the Asian Cup Qualifiers and the Asian Games, to be held in June-July and September-October, respectively, are tough assignments for Pakistan. These events will be a real test for Shamlan.
Under Zavisa, Pakistan lost four games out of five they played in the Asian Cup Qualifiers in Riyadh in June-July in 2012.
Shamlan has ignored foreign-based players for the tour to Beirut. The PFF also plans to hold a four-nation tournament in Lahore in April-May in order to provide ample practice to the team for the future assignments.
But a final decision will be taken only after the Punjab government gives the federation the green signal.