by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: England-born brothers Samir Nabi and Rahis Nabi have impressed Pakistan football team officials with their calibre.
Both have joined Pakistan team camp at Bahrain and are set to make their debut for their country of origin during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers first round which the Green-shirts play against Cambodia on June 6 and 11.
“They have the class,” a Pakistan team official told ‘The News’ from Manama on Monday. The Birmingham-born brothers were convinced by a senior official of Pakistan team to play for their country of origin.
The official had toured England for scouting the best stuff for the national team which is passing through the toughest phase of its history. They are younger brothers of professional striker Adil Nabi, who has played for England Under-16 and Under-17 sides and now plays for Greek first division league club OFI Crete.
Samir, 22, is a playmaker while Rahis, 20, is a defensive midfielder. The two joined Pakistan team last week in Manama at a time when some of the country’s key players are in control of Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) which has held a camp in Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium.
Bahrain’s camp is supervised by FIFA-recognised PFF, headed by Faisal Saleh Hayat and it is this federation which can field the team in the qualifiers against Cambodia.
“Samir and Rahis are welcome addition to Pakistan team. They are the finest of stuff and I am sure their presence in Pakistan team will make a big difference,” another team official told this correspondent.
“We have got some good foreign-based players over the years but this duo seem stunning,” the official said. Sources said that Pakistan team’s Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira has also been impressed by the two brothers with their fitness, skills and commitment.
Samir was the leading scorer for West Bromwich Albion’s under-21 side in the 2015–16 season, hitting six goals in 18 matches. In September 2016, he joined Indian Super League club Delhi Dynamos but returned to England without playing any game and signed for Carlisle United for the rest of the EFL League Two, the fourth tier of English league system.
Samir has also played for Torquay United Football Club, an English club which plays in National League, the fifth-tier of English football. Rahis, having played for England youth team, was associated with West Bromwich Albion FC B in 2016-2017 and Burnley B in 2017-2018. Currently he plays for Alvechurch, which plays in the Southern League Central division.
There are 22 players in the Bahrain camp, 12 foreign-based and ten home-based. Denmark-based striker Mohammad Ali and Danish Superliga winger Adnan Mohammad were scheduled to arrive in Manama on Monday, a source said.
“Zeeshan Rehman is expected to join us after May 25,” the source said. Zesh, Birmingham-born former Pakistan captain, plays for Hong Kong Premier League club Southern. “Zesh is in good form and his joining will be a huge boost to our side,” a Pakistan team official said.
Danish striker Hasan Bashir, gloveman Yousuf Butt and his brother Yaqoob Butt, a defender, are already in the camp. Pakistan team trains before Iftar and then at night. “All players are fit and are getting into rhythm. Coach Nogueira has a very good programme that will help the players achieve top form before the away leg to be held in Cambodia on June 6,” the official said.