KARACHI: After a week-long break, Pakistan national footballers will assemble in Lahore on Friday (today) to resume their training on Saturday (tomorrow) for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship qualifiers to be held next month.
“Yes the players will report for the camp tomorrow. And on Saturday, proper training will begin,” a Pakistan team official told ‘The News’ on Thursday.
“Around 24 players will be part of the training,” the official said.
Pakistan coach Mohammad Shamlan will arrive in Lahore in the wee hours of Saturday (tomorrow) and would supervise first day’s training at Punjab Stadium Lahore.
After guiding Pakistan to a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan on February 6 at Lahore, Shamlan went to Bahrain for spending a few days with his family.
The first big challenge for Pakistan is the World Cup qualifiers’ first round in which the Green-shirts have been drawn with strong Yemen.
Both teams will face each other in the two-legged round to be held on home and away basis.
The first leg will be hosted by Yemen on March 12 in Doha, Qatar, Yemen Football Association informed ‘The News’ on Thursday. The PFF has not yet recieved any official information regarding the venue.
“We are yet to receive any official information about the venue of the first leg from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC),” a top official of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) told ‘The News’ on Thursday.
“But I hope it will be confirmed soon as Yemen might have informed AFC about their options,” the official said.
Pakistan will host the home leg at Punjab Stadium, Lahore.
The venue last week successfully hosted Pakistan-Afghanistan friendly which was witnessed by a thick crowd.
Denmark-based Hassan Bashir, former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman, German winger Sami Malik, Sheffield United’s midfielder Otis Khan, home-grown Kyrgyzstan-based Kaleemullah, Mohammad Aadil, Saddam Hussain and Bahrain-based defender Mohammad Ahmed will be part of the team in the two-legged bid against Yemen.
They are more likely to join the team five days before the first leg against Yemen.
Hassan led Pakistan against Afghanistan. Saddam also played the match. Kaleem, Adil, Ahmed, did not come due to commitment with their clubs; Otis faced document issues, while Sami was not released by his club.
Zeshan skipped the friendly due to a minor injury.
In a bid to get a few practice matches ahead of their clashes with Yemen, Pakistan will fly out of Lahore for Malaysia on the night between February 20 and 21. After playing a couple of games there, they will then move to Thailand on the night between February 28 and 29.
As per schedule the players will return on March 7. But a PFF official said the plan could be revised and Pakistan could also move from Bangkok directly to the country which would host Pak-Yemen first leg of the qualifiers.
After the World Cup qualifiers, Pakistan will feature in their Group B matches of the 2016 AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers in Lahore.
Jordon, Kuwait, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan are the other teams in Pakistan’s group.
Shamlan will be assisted by Hasan Baloch, Tenvir Ahmad and Zahid Taj during the camp. Mohammad Asghar will serve as manager.