by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) plans to provide a foreign tour to the national footballers ahead of the Asian Games slated to be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2.
“Yes, a foreign tour is certainly in the plans,” a PFF senior official told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. Although he did not mention any particular country which Pakistan may visit, he said Pakistan might tour one of the Gulf countries.
“The team might be sent to one of the Gulf nations,’ the official said. Pakistan may hold a camp on foreign soil for the Asian Games. Pakistan footballers have not gone abroad for the last three years because of a conflict between two groups.
Footballers returned to action when 24 teams featured in the National Challenge Cup whose final will be held on Thursday (tomorrow) here at KPT Sports Complex between four-time Premier League winners WAPDA and the 2014 National Challenge Cup champions Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
The newly-hired Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira, along with the PFF Technical Study Group (TSG), is busy short-listing players for the national camp. It is expected that more than 40 players will be invited to the camp which will have some very young players who have impressed the selectors with their skills. The PFF official said that because of shortage of time the camp would have to be held in Lahore in Ramadan. “I think we will have to hold camp in Ramadan as time is short,” the official said.
As per rules in Asian Games, football competitions are held among the under-23 teams of the continent. However, teams can have threesenior players each. Players born on January 1, 1995, or later are eligible to become part of the Asian Games.
Pakistan are also to compete in the SAFF Championship to be held in Bangladesh from September 4-15. It has been learnt that around 15 senior players will be part of the camp. Foreign-based players are also on the radar of the PFF. “Yes, they will also join the camp,” the PFF official said.
The official said that the foreign players would have some new faces. “There will be some new players along with those who have already been tested,” the official said. Brazilian coach Jose came to Karachi a few days ago to begin his hunt for players. He is yet to hold a detailed meeting with the PFF top brass.
The PFF has already forwarded entries by numbers to the Asian Games organisers. The federation is expected to send the final list to the organisers through Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) by June 10.
In the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Pakistan ended third in their three-outfit group. The Green-shirts lost to North Korea 0-2 and China 0-1.