Name: Samar Ishaq
Club: KRL FC
Position: Centre-Back (Right-Footed)
By now a veteran of the side, Samar uses his extensive experience to keep even the toughest strikers at bay.
Making his debut under Salman Sharida, the KRL defender has cemented his first-choice status over the years, forming a formidable partnership with his fellow club and National Team partner Kamran Khan.
After getting a taste of International action during the 2005 SAFF Cup in Karachi, Samar continued growing with Pakistan, who recorded some superb results in 2006, which included winning the SAF Games and registering a narrow 3-2 loss against Japan.
The seasoned centre-back was on call later in the 2008 SAFF Cup, where he also managed to find the back of the net against Nepal from the penalty spot, but it counted for little as the Pak Shaheens were trounced 4-1.
Whilst his Premier League form continued and eventually won him the most valuable player prize, Samar was relegated to the bench in 2009 when George Kottan opted to rely on Britain-based defenders Atif Bashir, Amjad Iqbal and Shabir Khan for the SAFF Cup in Bangladesh.
However, with the induction of Graham Roberts and Akhtar Mohiuddin taking up the reigns, Samar was given an over-age berth in the 2010 Asian Games, where his missed spot-kick against Maldives cost Pakistan their only chance of a win.
With KRL dominating in the league, it was no surprise that Samar was in the squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, although he couldn’t prevent a 3-0 aggregate defeat against Bangladesh. But with the arrival of Zavisa Milosavljević, the 27-year-old has improved considerably and took part in the 2011 SAFF Cup, where he scored Pakistan’s only goal in the tournament, yet again from the spot-kick.
Owing to his strong partnership with Kamran, Zavisa opted to rely on the two for the friendlies against Singapore, Nepal and Maldives, where Samar’s determined performances caught the eye of many football fans.
However, despite his presence, Pakistan were unable to keep out Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March 2013, leaving the SAFF Cup as the sole arena for success where Samar and his fellow teammates will be trying their best to acquire silverware.