by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Besides an international friendly which will be held between Pakistan and Palestine football teams next month on FIFA Day, Pakistan’s football governing body, PFF, is trying to arrange a match for its senior team against another nation.
An official of the PFF told ‘The News’ on Wednesday that as Pakistan’s football had become active after three long years so effort was being made to manage more matches for the team to prepare it for the next year’s international commitments.
Next year Pakistan will be featuring in the World Cup qualifiers, Olympic qualifiers and the South Asian Games.
“As FIFA days are from November 12 to 20, it will be great if we get another match in these days,” the official said.The venue for the Pakistan-Palestine match to be held on November 15 is yet to be decided.It had been expected that Palestine would tour Lahore for the game.
But it was learnt on Wednesday that Palestine Football Association (PFA) has informed PFF that it wanted to host Pakistan.“This is a fresh development,” the PFF official revealed. “The situation will become clear soon,” the official said.
The PFA posted on its website on October 16 that Palestine would be going to Lahore.“The PFA has confirmed that the senior national team will play two away matches in November, facing Pakistan in Lahore on the 15th of November and China in Hangzhou on the 20th,” the website said.
When this correspondent approached the PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi on Wednesday, he said that the venue would be finally decided within a couple of days. A training camp for the match against Palestine will be held in the first week of November in Lahore.
“We will try to hold the camp in the first week of November. I think a ten-day camp will be enough,” the PFF official said. “The players are getting matches after every three or four days during the ongoing Premier League, so they are in good shape,” the official said.
Foreign-based players are also on the radar of the PFF for the match against Palestine. “Yes, foreign players will be part of the team. The match will be on FIFA day so there will be no problem for them to represent Pakistan,” the official said.
Denmark-based glove-man Yousuf Butt, strikers Mohammad Ali and Hassan Bashir and England-born senior pro Zesh Rehman are expected to be part of the team. These players were also part of the team which finished third in SAFF Cup in Dhaka recently.
Pakistan’s Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira is expected to arrive in Lahore in the next few days. He is currently in Sao Paulo to spend time with his family.
Nogueira was hired early this year along with the Brazilian trainer Jose Portella, who will serve as head coach of Pakistan Under-15 team which travels to Nepal on October 20 to feature in the SAFF Under-15 Football Championship.