by Muhammad Yousaf Anjum
LAHORE: The Pakistan football team is once again training in a camp in Lahore under their Brazilian head coach Jose Antonio Nogueira and trainer Jose Portella.
The side recently concluded a successful tour of Bahrain, in which they played four matches with different clubs. The Pakistani touring party won matches against Riffa FC (1-0) and Sitra FC (2-0), while their game against Al Ahli finished scoreless. Their only defeat of the tour came against Budaya, where they fell 2-1.
Now their next challenge is at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. It will be the team’s first major international assignment after three years as Pakistan recovers from the infighting that had halted the sport in the country.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has confirmed that the team for the Asian Games will be announced on August 10, with the side leaving for Indonesia the very next day.
“After a gap of three years, these boys were excellent in Bahrain,” said Pakistan Football Federation Secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi. “We are satisfied with their showing.”
The Pakistan team will kick off the games against Vietnam on August 14. The second match is scheduled against tough opponent Japan, while the team play their last game against Nepal on August 19.
“The Asian Games are a big event and we are confident that we can beat the Nepal team, but Vietnam and Japan are going to be difficult,” said Lodhi.
He also revealed that the PFF is getting funds from the Asian Football Confederation and other sources amounting to over Rs50 million.
The Pakistan Sports Board is not funding the team, and the PFF has to spend around half of that money on the preparations for the Asian Games and the upcoming SAF Cup which is taking place in Bangladesh in the first week of September.