A 15-member national football team accompanied by their UEFA-pro coach George Kottan has left for Dubai from Lahore in the hope of playing practice games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, details of which are yet to be disclosed.
Speaking to Dawn on Tuesday, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Secretary General Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said that sending the team on a tour of UAE and Qatar was part of their plan of providing them with more exposure before the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship to be held in Bangladesh from Dec 4 to 14.
‘Being more-advanced football-playing nations, they possess better pitches, equipment and football academies which our boys can benefit from, besides playing practice matches with their clubs,’ he said.
Providing more details of the tour, the PFF secretary said: ‘They are to have three practice sessions followed by two matches in Dubai after which the team leaves for Qatar, Doha, on Nov 21. In Doha, they have another five practice sessions followed by four matches.’
The team leaves for Dhaka on Dec 1 where after a couple of days of practice, they will play their first SAFF Championship match against Sri Lanka on Dec 4.
Pakistan, who have been placed in Group ‘B’, play their next match against hosts Bangladesh on Dec 6 and against Bhutan on Dec 8.
Meanwhile, Lodhi informed that five players of foreign descent playing in the European leagues will also be joining the team at the end of the Qatar tour.
‘Along with Atif Bashir of Bridge Town FC, there are Adnan, Shabbir, Raees and Amjad from the foreign clubs, who would be joining the squad in Doha. Of them, Amjad is yet to confirm his participation,’ he said while adding that ‘Their inclusion in the side will also result in the return of one or two players to Pakistan as we are permitted to enter only 18 players in the SAFF Championship.’
Goalkeepers: Jaffar Khan (vice-captain), Amir Gul.
Defenders: Shahid Ahmed, Samar Ishaq, Aurangzeb, Haji Mohammad, Mudassar Saeed.
Midfielders: Abdul Aziz, Mahmood Ali, Mohammad Essa (captain), Nasrullah.
Strikers: Arif Mahmood, Safiullah Khan, Jadid Khan Pathan, Khuda Bakhsh.