Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: In a bid to give final touches to their preparations for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the Pakistan football team will fly out of Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on Sunday (today) to play a couple of practice matches during their week-long stay there.
“Yes, we will leave for Bangkok at 1 pm local time tomorrow and will reach there at 2:30 pm Bangkok time,” Pakistan team manager Asghar Khan Anjum told ‘The News’ from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Pakistan will face a club from the Thai Premier League on March 3 and Thailand’s Olympic side on March 5 before returning home on March 7.
On March 9, the Green-shirts will depart for Doha to face Yemen in their away leg of the World Cup qualifiers on March 12.
The second leg will be conducted at Lahore on March 17.
Former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman is expected to join the team in Bangkok.
“The coach Mohammed Shamlan is in contact with him. There is a chance of a meeting with Zesh before our departure for Bangkok tomorrow. Hopefully, he will join us in Thailand,” Asghar said.
Zesh, who is with his club Pahang FA in Myanmar, will return to Malaysia on Sunday (today).
About the experienced Bahrain-based defender Mohammad Ahmed Asghar said it was not yet clear when he would join the side.
“Shamlan feels if Ahmed comes directly to Doha it will be better. The time is short and it would be of no use if he goes to Lahore,” Asghar said.
Ahmed told this correspondent from Bahrain that he had not yet got clearance letter from his club.
“We will play a league match on Monday. The PFF has already sent a letter to the club and I am waiting for its clearance letter which I hope I will get soon,” Ahmed said.
“After the club will release me it will then depend on coach Shamlan and PFF to decide where I will have to join the team,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed plays for Bahraini club ISA Town FC, who play in Bahrain’s second-tier.
Kyrgyzstan-based players Kaleemullah, Mohammad Adil and Saddam Hussain were scheduled to land in Lahore on Saturday night.
“They have boarded a plane and are coming,” an official of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said.
“Tight effort would be made to get visas for them on Monday. If it weren’t to be possible, they may not be sent to Bangkok and will practice here at Lahore for a few days,” the official said.
“If their visas are issued, they could be sent on Monday,” the official said.
Around a dozen of Under-23 players are undergoing training at Lahore under coach Sajjad Mehmood.
As many as 15 Under-23 players are in Kuala Lumpur who would join the Lahore-based probables in the camp which will resume immediately at the end of Pakistan’s senior team’s World Cup qualifying round against Yemen. The same Under-23 lot will appear in the 2016 AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers Group B to be hosted by Pakistan in Lahore from March 23 to 31. Jordon, Kuwait, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan are in Pakistan’s group.