Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: The Premier League champions Khan Research Laboratories’s (KRL) skipper Samar Ishaq is unlikely to regain his top fitness ahead of his team’s participation in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup first round, which is to be held in Colombo next month.
Samar, who has joined the team’s camp after staying away from the game for a long time due to a knee injury, is trying to regain his fitness.
“Samar is training with the team. Because he has returned after a long time, he will need some time to regain his top fitness. He will go along the team to Colombo but he will not be able to achieve match fitness. But I hope he will regain his fitness before the Premier League,” KRL manager Ayaz Butt told ‘The News’ from Rawalpindi on Friday where his team is undergoing training for the continental third-tier slots.
The international defender developed a knee injury during the Premier League last year, which forced him to stay away from most part of the season. He also missed the National Challenge Cup, played in Karachi recently.
Butt said that KRL would try to fly for Colombo on May 5 for the vital assignment. “As we will have to play our matches on May 7, 9 and 11, we need to be in Colombo by May 5. Arrangements are being made and I am confident we will fly to Colombo on May 5,” Butt said.
Those teams which will qualify for the six-team final round will also become eligible to play the AFC Cup play-offs in 2015.
KRL have been placed in Group A with Sri Lanka’s Air Force SC, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakara Limited of Bangladesh and Ugyen Academy of Bhutan in the AFC President’s Cup.
The matches will be held at the Sugathadasa Sports Complex in the Sri Lankan capital.
But the KRL manager seemed a bit upset over the stance of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) for not releasing their two key players, Saddam Hussain and Bilawal-ur-Rehman.
“We had already been missing Kaleemullah and Mohammad Aadil and this decision of the PFF not to release our two players from the national camp has made things difficult for us,” Butt lamented.
Pakistan team is to feature in the Al-Nakba International Football tournament in Palestine from May 1-15.
“You know, AFC President Cup this time is very important. We had requested the PFF to release our players as our performance in Sri Lanka will help the country also. But they turned down our request, which is a big blow for us. You know we can only request,” the dejected Butt said.