KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah said the national team will be determined to put a dynamic show in the first round of the World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia next month.
The PFF has called over 50 players for a camp ahead of next month’s international assignment.
“We have called 32 players, who have played for Pakistan before. Our selectors are shortlisting another 20 players. The players aged between 18 to 23 years, who performed well in the recently concluded National Intercity Championship, will also join the camp,” Ashfaq told PPI.
The national camp commences on Sunday (today) at Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad.
Pakistan and Cambodia are scheduled to play two matches next month – first at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium in Cambodia on June 6 and the second leg match is expected to be hosted by Pakistan on June 11. Lahore’s Punjab Stadium will most likely host the second match.
However, uncertainty prevails over whether the tie will even take place as FIFA still recognizes former PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat as its head. Faisal had been removed and the new setup took over a few months back after the Supreme Court had ordered fresh PFF elections.
Ashfaq finds his team legitimate on the basis of the work they have been doing. They organized intercity tournament after holding nationwide trials. They are now endeavouring to prepare a strong side for the World Cup qualifier’s first-round tie.
“We have been trying our best to work for the betterment of football. Everyone knows where Pakistan football stands. If we can put the game on the right track, then everyone will support us. This is what we are looking to do,” Ashfaq said.
Pakistan national team’s player, Jadid Khan, who will also be joining the camp today, said he was hopeful that FIFA would take the right decision in favour of Pakistan football, which is to not ban the country.
He thinks that preventing Pakistan from featuring in the World Cup Qualifier tie would not be in the best interest of football and FIFA is out there to support and promote football.
FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials will visit Pakistan on May 28 to assess the issue before taking a fateful decision for Pakistan football.