By Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Danish defender Nabil Aslam will be part of the Pakistan’s football team which will leave from Lahore on Thursday night (tonight) for Kuala Lumpur to play a couple of practice matches to prepare for the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers first round against Yemen next month.
“Nabil will accompany us to Malaysia,” a team source told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
‘The News’ learnt that Denmark’s first division club AB Copenhagen’s 30-year old defender has impressed coach Mohammad Shamlan during a practice game against Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) on Wednesday.
Pakistan won the game 3-0 with midfielder Mohammad Riaz scoring a brace. Mohammad Naved hit the other goal. The match, which was held at the City School Ground, had three halves of 30 minutes each.
Nabil also impressed Pakistan team assistant coach cum manager Mohammad Asghar.
“He is a quality player. He has vast experience and played classic football today,” Asghar told this correspondent on Wednesday.
Nabil joined the camp only three days back.
He will be issued Malaysia’s visa on arrival, Asghar confirmed.
“He has Danish passport so he will avail the facility to get his visa upon arrival,” Asghar said.
As many as 18 players will travel to Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur-bound squad will be announced on Thursday (today).
Asghar confirmed that former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman and Danish striker Hassan Bashir would join the team in Kuala Lumpur.
“Zesh and Hassan will join us in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
“Kyrgyzstan-based trio Kaleemullah, Mohammad Aadil and Saddam Hussain and Bahrain-based defender Mohammad Ahmed are not yet confirmed. Ahmad is busy in the league, while the other three are playing a tournament for their club Dordoi FC,” Asghar said.
“The coach has already told them that they would need to join the team for practice matches. If they were found good in practice matches they could only be picked for further key matches,” Asghar said.
Asghar said that Pakistan would face Malaysia’s Under-19 team and Under-23 side on their tour.
“In Thailand too we will play two matches,” Asghar said.
As per plan, after playing two matches in Malaysia, the Green-shirts will proceed to Bangkok on March 1 and will return home on March 7. On March 9, they will then fly to Doha (Qatar) to face Yemen in their away leg of the World Cup qualifiers on March 12.
Yemen opted to host Pakistan in Doha because of the internal unrest in their country. On March 13, Pakistan will return home to face Yemen in their home leg at Punjab Stadium on March 17.
Shamlan wanted to arrange a couple of matches for his side in Bahrain too.
But Asghar said the time was too short.
“The time is too short. And instead of Bahrain we will get good practice opportunity in Thailand,” Asghar said.