Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s assistant coach Hasan Baloch on Tuesday said that the team would direly need star striker Kaleemullah in the Asian Games, which are pencilled in for September 19 to October 4 in Incheon, South Korea.
“If he comes for the India series it will be very good. But if he does not come for that, we will direly need his presence in the Asian Games,” Hasan told ‘The News’ after returning from Indonesia where his side lost to the hosts 4-0 in a one-off friendly at Surabya on June 21.
Chaman-born Kaleem is currently playing for Kyrgyzstan’s club Dordoi Bishkek for which Pakistan’s prominent winger Mohammad Adil also plays. Adil has signed a one-year contract with the club, which is being managed by Pakistan’s former coach Zavisa Milosavljevic. Adil has been hired for the whole year.
Although Kaleem’s contract will expire at the end of July, there is a chance of extension as the dangerous striker, known for his speed and accuracy in finishing, is doing a good job for Zavisa’s outfit.
After the Indonesia tour Pakistani players have been released from the camp so that they spend Ramadan at their homes.
They will re-assemble on August 5 to start their preparation for the two back-to-back tours of India and Bahrain. The Green-shirts are scheduled to face India at Bangalore on August 17 and 20 before flying for Bahrain for a few matches.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is also expected to send the team to Thailand for training ahead of the Asiad, which will be the real test for Pakistan’s Bahraini coach Mohammed Shamlan, who relies on youngsters. Shamlan left for Bahrain the other day from Dubai. He will come to Pakistan on August 4.
Hasan revealed that before leaving for Bahrain Shamlan had given training schedule to the players for the month of Ramadan. “The players have been told that they should train for at least three days in a week so that they could keep their fitness and rhythm,” he said.
While defending his team’s miserable performance against Indonesia, the assistant coach said that they were unlucky not to convert chances. “It was an even match but if the strikers miss seven easy chances then what one can do!” Hasan said. “Indonesia scored against us on set pieces, while we created chances through some solid movements. We not only made a few mistakes in the deep but the controversial red card to our key midfielder Saddam Hussain in the first half broke our back,” the assistant coach said.
He lauded the effort of Chaman-born midfielder Mehmood Khan. “Mehmood played excellently and Shamlan gave him 100 dollars for his fine performance. Striker Abdul Salam, who was playing his first international game, also was not bad,” Hasan said. He ruled out the chances of any foreign-based player in the team for the Asian Games. “Shamlan does not want to have any foreign-based player in his side for the Asian Games. If they are unable to join the camp at least 15 days before any tour it will be useless to keep them in the team as the same experience in the past has met with a failure,” Hasan said.
He lauded the commitment of Shamlan. “Shamlan is working extremely hard. He has taken the risk to form a young team and will also field it in the Asian Games. He says that this team will start producing results after a couple of years,” Hasan said.