By Umaid Wasim,
KARACHI: They might be participating for the first time but K-Electric are going there to win it.
“We wouldn’t have been going if we weren’t fancying our chances of winning it,” K-Electric’s Sports Head Zabe Khan told Dawn on Tuesday regarding the Sheikh Kamal International Club Championship in Bangladesh later this month.
The tournament will see top football clubs of South Asia take part and Zabe reckons their team, which will be bolstered by some “exciting new signings” has the potential to win their maiden international tournament.
“We have a team which can win and become the best in South Asia,” he added.
Having won their first Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) title last season, K-Electric participated in the AFC Cup Qualifying Playoffs in August where they won their group to advance to next year’s Preliminary/Playoff stage of Asia’s second-tier club tournament.
And the Sheikh Kamal tournament — which sees three clubs from Bangladesh, two from India and one each from Nepal and the Maldives take part alongside K-Electric — is vital to their preparations.
“It also offers us a chance to win an international trophy which will be great for the team’s morale,” said Zabe.
K-Electric will also have the services of English striker Jon Ashworth and Nigerian defender Michael Okpala, who are being brought in, while England-based coach Majid Shafiq returns to the team as head-coach after guiding the team in the AFC Cup Qualifying Playoffs.
RAHEELA IN COACHING TEAM
“It helps us to try players in stressful tense matches so it serves as great mental preparation,” Majid told Dawn. “This will help us get the best out of our players and we can reinforce for the next challenge [in the AFC Cup].”
Ashworth was a junior player for English Premier League side Everton while Okpala, 27, has featured for the Nigerian U-17 team.
Meanwhile, in a major move, K-Electric have inducted Pakistan national women’s team manager Raheela Zarmeen in their coaching panel.
“It is the first time that a woman will be in the coaching staff of a men’s team in Pakistan — or rather, South Asia,” Zabe said. “This will help in mentoring women’s football coaching.”
Raheela was manager of the Pakistan women’s team at last year’s SAFF Women’s Championship where she was criticised for the national team’s exit at the group stage.
She has previously managed Balochistan United to the National Women’s Championship title. And the 22-year-old believes the experience will help her in the future.
“It is a great opportunity for me as I will gain a lot of knowledge and working with a men’s team will broaden my skill set,” she told Dawn on Tuesday. “I hope it creates new opportunities for women and development of women’s football.”