have been placed with Yemen. I always go for a win and InshaAllah we will try to perform in the first round,” he added.
After guiding Pakistan to a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan in a friendly in Lahore on February 6, Shamlan went to Bahrain to spend a week with his family.
However, he is scheduled to come to Pakistan on Friday.
“Yes, I will come on February 13 and the very next day we will start the camp,” Shamlan said.
It is highly likely that Pakistan will have the services of former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman, Kyrgyzstan-based star striker Kaleemullah, winger Mohammad Adil and Bahrain-based defender Mohammad Ahmed in their bid against Yemen. All of them were not part of Shamlan’s brigade in their clash against Afghans in which the hosts were led by Denmark-based striker Hassan Bashir. Bishkek-based midfielder Saddam Hussain was also seen in action.
Pakistan team assistant coach Hasan Baloch said that Yemen had good standard.
“We had played against Yemen in the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers in Kuwait a few years ago and I was impressed by their standard. But we have also good youngsters and I hope we will give tough time to Yemenis,” Hasan said.
Yemen had crushed Pakistan 4-0 in the 2012 AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers Group B in Kuwait on September 22, 2011.
Former Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi, in a different taste, labeled Pakistan’s draw against strong Yemen unlucky.
“Yemen, like Iraq, is also a troubled country but with good football standard,” Tariq said.
“I think, Yemen are the strongest of the 12 lowest-ranked Asian outfits drawn in the first round,” Lutfi said.
“Yemenis are neighbours of Saudi Arabia and are physically strong. And so it is not easy to compete with them. But we should think positive. If Pakistan beat them it could instill a new life in the country’s football,” Lutfi said.
However, he suggested that Shamlan would have to be a bit careful in the away leg.
“Shamlan is naturally an aggressive coach which is a good thing. But in the first leg against Yemen he will have to be more careful. Win or draw would be much better. But if they lose, they will need to keep the scoring margin down so that they could get a chance at home,” said Lutfi, who was Pakistan’s coach when they lost to Bangladesh in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
The six winners of the first round of the qualifiers will advance to the second round where the 34 highest-ranked nations await them. The 40 nations will then be drawn into eight groups of five teams each the slots of which will be held from June 11, 2015 to March 29, 2016.
The group-winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 outfits from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup finals.
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