KARACHI: Pakistan coach Mohamed Shamlan believes that for the national team, selecting players based on their individual skills rather than the performance of their departments and clubs as a whole is imperative.
Shamlan has been preparing a squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers –beginning in March this year – and the AFC Cup qualifiers.
The Bahraini had earlier been criticised for picking players from Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) Division B league this year for the national squad.
However, he believes that quality should trump everything.
“I picked around 10 players for the national camp from the Division B league,” Shamlan told The Express Tribune. “I chose them because I saw quality in their game.
“For me, the departments they are representing don’t matter. I don’t care which club they are playing for.”
Pakistan to face Afghanistan in friendly
The coach will also field his team against Afghanistan on February 6 in a friendly match organised by the PFF in Lahore to provide exposure to the national side.
“The main objective of our training is the qualifiers and the AFC Cup and a friendly match will be good practice,” he said.
International players including Saddam Hussain, Hassan Bashir, Sami Malik and Otis Khan will join the team for the friendly match, while Zesh Rehman, Kaleemullah and Muhammad Adil will miss the February 6 fixture.
Shamlan is confident that Pakistan can at least reach the second round in the World Cup qualifiers and the AFC Cup.
“I have realistic expectations, but we need to improve. Our match against Afghanistan will be a basic test for the important events coming up.”
Afghanistan have sent their B squad for the friendly, but that does not deter Shamlan from expecting a competitive match. “Every match is played to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a B team or A.
“Afghanistan are the South Asian Football Federation Champions and have a good side, but I believe that we aren’t too far behind. We can give them a tough time.”
Pakistan last played Afghanistan in August. Afghanistan are ranked 144th in the world and Pakistan are on the 188th place.