KARACHI: Aiming to break its three-decade win-less run Pakistan football team was scheduled to fly out of Bahrain for Cambodia in the wee hours of Monday (today) to face the Southeast Asian nation in the first leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers first round at the Phnom Penh Stadium on June 6.
The 19-member team is being coached by Brazilian Jose Antonio Nogueira, who is being assisted by two other Brazilians, a trainer and a goalkeeping coach, and four Pakistan-based officials.
Pakistan on Saturday played their last practice game against Buri Sports Club at the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) Stadium which Pakistan won 5-1. England-born Tabish Hussein hit a double, while Ahmed Fahim, Samir Nabi and Zesh Rehman scored one goal each. Zeeshan’s goal came on penalty.
Zesh, a former Pakistan captain, joined the squad the other day following his engagement with his club Southern in the Hong Kong Cup, which concluded on May 25.
The hosts took the lead, but Pakistan, who were playing with their full strength, fought back strongly and sealed a comfortable win. “It was really a morale boosting win for us. We were playing with full strength. The hosts club had mostly professional players and it was a good practice before leaving for Cambodia,” a Pakistan team official told ‘The News’.
Denmark-based striker Mohammad Ali and winger Adnan Mohammad will be moving to Cambodia directly after playing their club matches in Denmark. Denmark-based winger Shabban Hussein has been dropped from the squad because he could not get his Pakistani passport.
Sources said that he had applied for a passport but so far had not been issued. The second leg will be held at Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on June 11. The lowest-ranked 12 teams are competing in the first round with the six winners joining the 34 teams in the second round to be held in September.
Pakistan, who made their World Cup qualifiers debut 29 years ago, have never won a match. They have played 30 matches, and lost 26. Some of the key Pakistani players, including captain Saddam Hussain, striker Mansoor Khan, Saadullah, Saqib Hanif and Naved, were in the Islamabad camp which was organised by the PFF led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, and so missed the qualifiers. That camp was closed on Saturday night.
The Bahrain camp, which lasted two weeks, was held under the PFF which is recognised by FIFA. Unofficial squad: Zeeshan Rehman, Adnan Mohammad, Mohammad Ali, Hasan Bashir, Yousuf Butt, Yaqoob Butt, Rahis Nabi, Samir Nabi, Naveed Rehman, Tabish Hussein, Abdullah Ghazi, Mohammad Riaz, Ali Khan Niazi, Ahsanullah, Ahmed Faheeem, Umar Hayat, Ali Uzair, Muzammil Hussain, Mehmood Khan.