KARACHI: Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic has decided to induct more foreign-based, experienced footballers in the senior team following a series of failures.
He plans to do this in order to form a winning combination ahead of the vital assignment of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in March next year. “I think it’s the right time to think about the foreign-based players as we desperately need their services,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ in an interview from his hometown in Serbia on Tuesday. “Ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers, I plan to rope in more such players playing in different countries.”
The first phase of the preparation for the next year’s assignment will start from August 25 at Lahore. After training for six days, till August 31, the camp is expected to be halted by the authorities due to the Pakistan Premier Football League which will commence from September 1. But the players may be invited to the camp at any stage if the authorities are able to manage international matches for the team, particularly on FIFA days for which the foreign-based players will also be able to join the squad.
Zavisa is now convinced that foreign-based players could enhance the strength of the team. “I believe that foreign product will be more productive for the team. We have on our list around 10 such players and a few of them including England-based professional defender Zeeshan Rehman, midfielder Adnan Farooq Ahmad, defender Atif Bashir and Denmark-based striker Hasan Bashir are well-known to us,” he said.
“But we also plan to pass through the scanner some other players like England-based left-back Shabbir Khan, Danish Superliga defender Nabil Aslam, striker Mohammad Ali and goalkeeper Yousuf Butt and a few others,” the coach disclosed.
Of the lot Adnan and Atif have been regularly playing for the last few years and were also part of the Pakistan’s team that featured under Zavisa in the SAFF Cup held in New Delhi in December last year.
In the event, Pakistan drew all their three games — against the former champions Bangladesh, Maldives and the technically more accurate Nepal.
Zesh, playing in the Hong Kong league, does not look much serious for Pakistan duty as he last year unnecessarily skipped the vital return leg of the World Cup Qualifiers against Bangladesh in Lahore citing security reason despite playing in the first leg in Dhaka.
Danish striker Hasan Bashir is desperately waiting for his international debut. He failed to make his debut when Pakistan’s series against India scheduled to be held in England in the second half of last year was cancelled. Hasan also could not see his dreams realised when he failed to represent the country in the New Delhi SAFF Cup due to a passport problem. Mohammad Ali and Nabil Aslam will bring a lot of energy into the team if their inclusion is made possible for the qualifiers.
Zavisa said that he also plans to go to England and Denmark to watch all these players ahead of the start of the second phase of the camp in September. “Definitely, I plan to go to England and Denmark and to see all these players and other fresh faces,” he said.
‘The News’ also learnt that only six players of the 22-man squad that recently flopped in the Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia have been able to make it to the camp of the senior lot.
These are three goalies, Saqib Hanif, Muzammil Hussain and Tanvir Mumtaz, and midfielders Mohammad Aadil, Faisal Iqbal and Kaleemulalh.
Zavisa said that the rest of the Under-22 players needed a lot of improvement. “I think the rest of the Under-22 players need a lot of hard work for build up and improvement,” said the coach.
But it is encouraging that experienced and dashing striker Mohammad Rasool and midfielder Yasir Afridi have been included in the 25 home-based probables for the camp.
Zavisa, who is enjoying leave with his family in Serbia, will also watch the Premier League to pick players who could prove to be beneficial for the team.
The senior team have not played any international game since they appeared in the last December SAFF Cup in India.
Zavisa has handed over the probables list for the camp to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) for final approval.