KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier football team KRL will be looking to prepare for the future in the upcoming National Challenge Cup with coach Tariq Lutfi set to induct new blood in the squad.
Lutfi, who helped the team win three consecutive Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) titles, believes his squad needs a strong performance in the country’s second biggest football tournament.
Lutfi’s squad will compete without star players Kaleemullah and Muhammad Aadil, as they joined Kyrgyzstan’s Fc Dordoi earlier this month.
“It will be about saving our pride,” Lutfi told The Express Tribune. “I’ve just reached Islamabad and started the camp with a few players. So this tournament is a test. At the moment, I have to rebuild the team. After Kaleemullah and Aadil’s departure, I have to find new talent.”
KRL will be up against PIA and Navy in Group A. The format of the tournament will be shorter compared to PPFL as each team will be playing two group matches before the knock-out stage.
Lutfi thinks that this will be the chance to test the newcomers in the club. “We’ve taken two boys in the squad, now we need to see whether they can be suitable replacements or not,” said Lufti. “There will be no room for error.”
Aadil and Kaleemullah unlikely to return to KRL
Meanwhile, Lutfi said that having Aadil and Kaleemullah playing for the foreign club is encouraging and it should only motivate other players in the team. “I’ve been in touch with both players,” said Lutfi. “They are discovering new techniques with FC Dordoi; it’s like they have a new sky to fly on,” said Lutfi.
Lutfi said that there are slim chances of these two players coming back to KRL in the future.
“Aadil has signed the contract for a year, while Kaleemullah has a shorter one.” said Lutfi.
“Now they will look forward to joining other foreign clubs, both of them have told me that there is a huge difference in our local football facilities and the opportunities abroad. They can come back to play for the national team but I doubt they would play for KRL again.”
In the draws issued by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), last season’s runners-up K-Electric will compete with Pak-Afghan Clearing Agency and KPT in Group B.
Wapda, with defending champions NBP and HEC will lock horns in Group C, while PAF, Police and HBL form Group D. The knock-out stage will begin on March 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2014.