by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will set up a training camp for its team in Doha next month to prepare for next year’s international assignments, reliable sources told ‘The News’ on Sunday.
They said Qatar Football Association (QFA) had informed PFF that Qatar is ready to host Pakistan. Other things regarding the conditions of the camp are being finalised, the sources said. It was also learnt that Qatar had promised that it would arrange some practice matches for Pakistan during the camp.
The sources said that nations scheduled to feature in the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January next year would also come to Qatar in December and Pakistan might play with them during their training period in Doha.
It was learnt that Pakistan would send a team composed of players of various age-groups, keeping in view the requirements of the international assignments next year. Pakistan will feature in South Asian Games, 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers and the World Cup Qualifiers.
The South Asian Games are slated to be hosted by Nepal in Kathmandu and Pokhara from March 9-18, 2019.According to rules each participating nation will field its under-23 squad, with only three senior players.
The 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers will be held from March 22-26. The qualifiers will also serve as the first stage of the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the qualifiers, Pakistan have been clubbed in Group F with the last edition’s winners and hosts Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and arch-rivals India.
Pakistan will begin their journey with a game against Uzbekistan on March 22. Pakistan will take on Tajikistan on March 24 and India on 26.In the qualifiers, 44 teams have been placed in 11 groups. The group winners and the four best second-placed sides will join hosts Thailand in the 2020 finals. As per rules, the hosts are given direct entry into the main event.
It will be followed by World Cup qualifiers next summer in which the senior team will compete. Pakistan are set to face Palestine in an international friendly on November 15 at Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram, Palestine.
Pakistan are expected to fly out of Lahore to Palestine via Oman on Tuesday (tomorrow). The PFF was waiting for the permits which Palestine was to send to the PFF headquarters last night (Sunday).
It was also learnt that Canada-based brothers Navid Rehman and Adil Rehman would be part of the touring party. Both the midfielders, having played in Slovakia, have already joined the camp in Lahore. Denmark-based players and Hong Kong-based former Pakistan captain Zesh Rehman will join the squad in Palestine.
Pakistan’s camp for the Palestine game had been started at Lahore on November 7. Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira will accompany the squad as head coach. The sources also said that Navid and Danish Superliga winger Adnan Mohammad are eligible to represent Pakistan in the 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers.