KARACHI: Bradford-born midfielder Amjad Iqbal was recalled as Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) on Sunday unveiled names of 22 players for a brief camp which will start in Lahore on Monday (today) ahead of the national team’s tours of Nepal and Maldives early next month.
The tours have been arranged to prepare for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in Kyrgyzstan in the second half of March.
The camp will begin at the Punjab Stadium at 10am.
The 31-year-old Amjad, who last played for Pakistan in the 2009 Dhaka SAFF Cup, has remained out of the team due to injury for the last three years.
Amjad made his international debut during World Cup Qualifiers against Iraq in 2007.
He serves as a chemistry lecturer at Bradford College in England besides playing for the Bradford Park Avenue FC.
Apart from Amjad, five other foreign-based players are part of the list: Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Ali, goalkeeper Yousuf Butt, his brother Yaqoob Butt and Shabbir Khan.
Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic told ‘The News’ that Denmark-born striker Mohammad Ali and centre-back Yaqoob Butt would arrive in Lahore on Monday (today) and Danish striker Hasan Bashir and goalie Yousuf Butt would be in Pakistan within a couple of days. Sources close to these players said that Hasan and Shabbir would arrive on Friday and Yousuf Butt on Tuesday (tomorrow).
Sources said that arrival schedule of Amjad Iqbal was not yet confirmed.
Yaqoob Butt, who plays as defensive midfielder, will be making his debut.
Veteran defender Zeeshan Rehman has been suffering from a calf injury and since there is only one game on FIFA date in the entire tour so he may also have issue of his release for a long time from his club in Hong Kong, sources said.
England-based midfielder Adnan Ahmed is also not part of the team due to club issues, sources said. Adnan was part of Pakistan team that played against Singapore on FIFA date last year but he was not fully fit.
The country’s fine striker Rizwan Asif, who missed the entire league due to hairline fracture, has also been invited. “We have called Rizwan and he will be under our observation regarding his fitness,” Zavisa said.
Rizwan received an injury when a motorcycle fell on his shin after colliding with another motorcycle. Midfielder Yasir Afridi, whose career has mostly been dogged by injuries, has also been recalled. Afridi, cousin of Test cricketer Riaz Afridi, was seen in good touch in the final few matches of the Premier League while playing for KRL.
The decision to ignore goalkeeper Jehangir Khan is surprising as he not only did a fine job in the Premier League but also played well against Singapore.
Striker Mohammad Rasool is not likely to attend the camp due to injury, a source close to the player said.
The team is scheduled to fly out of Lahore for Nepal on February 4 where the Greenshirts will face the home side in international friendlies on February 6 and 9. Then they will move to Maldives where they will meet the senior side of the hosts on February 12 and 14.
Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic termed the tours a positive move, saying these would help him to compose a fighting lot for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. “You know, every international match has its utility and helps in creating a good team and the tours will help us in that direction,” Zavisa said.
“On the tours win or defeat will not be of any value as our main target is the continental assignment in March,” said coach.
Sources said there were chances that Pakistan would also be sent to Bahrain for a few practice games in early March.
Camp probables: Jaffar Khan (Army), Saqib Hanif, Rizwan Asif, Samar Ishaq, Kamran Khan, Muhammad Adil, Kaleem Ullah, Zia-us-Salam, Yasir Afridi (all KRL), Muhammad Ahmed (WAPDA), Muhammad Rasool (KESC), Faisal Iqbal (NBP), Muhammad Mujahid (PAF), Naveed Ahmed (Navy), Muhammad Hameed, Saeed Ahmed (Both Muslim FC), Yousuf Butt (BGA FC, Denmark), Yaqoob Butt (Skovshoved IF FC, Denmark), Hasan Bashir (BK Hallerup IK, Denmark), Muhammad Ali (BK Avarta, Denmark), Amjad Iqbal (Bradford Park Avenue FC, England), Shabbir Khan (Worcester City FC, England).
Officials: Milosavljevic Zavisa (head coach/manager), Shehzad Anwar (assistant coach), Aslam Khan (goalkeeping coach), Kamran Mehdi (physio/assistant manager), Bilal Butt (coordinator/assistant manager).