Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: National footballers will begin their training on Sunday (today) at Lahore for the major international assignments to be held in March.
“Tomorrow we will begin the camp. The players have started reaching Lahore,” Pakistan’s coach Mohammad Shamlan told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Saturday.
However, he was quick to add that on Sunday, there might only be a light exercise, and the training would be held with full force from Monday (tomorrow).
Pakistan’s senior team will play matches on March 12 and 17 in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers first round for which the draws are yet to be unveiled.
From March 23 to 31, the Green-shirts will participate in the 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 championship qualifiers. The event also serves as qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the under-23 championship qualifiers, Pakistan have been clubbed in Group B with Jordon, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.
The Group B slots will be hosted by Pakistan at Punjab Stadium, Lahore. A total of 43 teams have been drawn into ten groups, with the ten group-winners and five best runners-up qualifying for the final round to be hosted by Qatar from January 12-30, 2016.
Pakistan will begin their journey in the under-23 affair on March 23 against Turkmenistan, followed by their encounters against Jordon on 25, Kuwait on 27 and Kyrgyzstan on 31. Shamlan said that England-based midfielder Otis Khan, Berlin-born winger Sami Malik, Malaysia-based former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman and Danish striker Hasan Bashir would reach Lahore by February 1. “Yes, these four will reach by February 1 and so will Mohammad Ahmed,” Shamlan said.
Ahmed, WAPDA’s defender, plays for Bahrain’s ISA Town FC.
However, Shamlan was not sure about the arrival of Kyrgyzstan-based Kaleemullah, Mohammad Adil and Saddam Hussain. “Because Dordoi FC have a match in Turkmenistan on February 9, their availability for Pakistan’s match against Afghanistan is not yet confirmed,” the coach said.
Assistant coaches Hasan Baloch, Mohammad Asghar and goalkeeping coach Zahid Taj are in the support staff of Shamlan, a former Bahraini defender.
Squad: Muzammil Hussain (GK), Saqib (GK), EhsanUllah (GK), Ghazanfar (GK), Ghulam Nabi (GK), Shahbaz (GK), Muhammad Bilal (DEF), Muhammad Sufyan (DEF), Shehram Baber (DEF), Mohsin (DEF), Naveed (DEF), Amjad (DEF), Najeeb Ur Rehman (MF), Muhammad Riaz (MF), Bilawal (MF), Faheem Shah (MF), Subhan (MF), Habib Ullah (MF), Muhammad Tahir (MF), Saad Ullah (MF), Gul Muhammad (F), Mansoor Khan (F), Muhammad Tahir (F).