by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: K-Electric (KE) head coach Hassan Baloch believes practice is the key to success and would want his team to begin training from January 1 in order to prepare for their 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifying play-off, which is scheduled to take place in February.
With the honour of becoming the first team from Pakistan to qualify for the AFC Cup up for grabs, KE face Bahrain champions Al-Hidd in the play-off on February 9 in Manama and Baloch is looking to schedule as many practice matches before that as possible.
“It is going to be the biggest match for KE,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. “The goal is to become the first Pakistani team to qualify for the AFC second-tier championship and we want our players to give their all for this.”
The KE coach wants the team to start training by New Years. “I would want the camp to begin on January 1 even though some players, who are stationed outside the city, would be unable to attend,” he said. “However, the practice with the available players in Karachi should begin at People’s Stadium as early as possible.”
Former Pakistan national coach Salman Sharida is in charge of Al-Hidd and KE striker Muhammad Rasool, who will be joining the team on January 15, has warned against the challenge posed by the 47-year-old.
“I wore the national colours when Sharida was [Pakistan] coach, so it’s emotional for me to see him after all this time. It’s going to be a real challenge because Sharida knows us really well,” said Rasool. “But our aim is to win this play-off.”
Pakistan will need to win the play-off to book their place in Group A, which has clubs from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkmenistan.
KE qualified for the second round of the AFC Cup after they topped Group A of the qualifying round, defeating Mongolia’s Khoromkhon FC 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with hosts Druk United FC of Bhutan.