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July 13, 2018

Skipper Hassan impressed by youngsters at training camp


July 13, 2018

KARACHI: Denmark-based Pakistan football team captain Hassan Bashir has been very impressed by the talent of youngsters in the national team’s training camp which is in operation at Lahore for the Asian Games and SAFF Cup to be held in August-September.

“I am very happy and am very much impressed with the talent of these young players in the camp. They are technically very sound and their finishing is also fairly good,” Hassan told ‘The News’ from Lahore.

The 31-year-old striker, who arrived in Pakistan the other day, attended a few training sessions in the camp being held under the supervision of Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira at the Model Town Ground.

Hassan also lauded Nogueira for the way the Sao Paulo coach is preparing the side.“He (Nogueira) is doing a good job. He is preparing the team quite well. Because of the presence of a Brazilian trainer the fitness level of the players has also seen enormous improvement and it is a plus point,” Hassan observed.

“Shehzad Anwar, the technical coordinator, is also working with passion and such things count in building a good team,” the player said.Jose Portella has been serving as camp trainer with Nogueira since the start in late May. This is the first time in history that Pakistan has hired the services of a foreign trainer for improving conditioning of the players at a stage when they remained out of action, both internationally and at domestic level, for three years due to a conflict between Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and its rival group.

The Asian Games are slated to be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2. The SAFF Cup will be held in Dhaka from September 4-15.

In the 24-team Asian Games football event, Pakistan have been clubbed in Group D with strong Japan, Vietnam and Nepal.The outfits have been bracketed in six groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group and four best third placed sides would progress to the quarter-finals. South Korea will defend the title. The football competitions would be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 14 to September 1.

On the other hand the seven-nation SAFF Cup, which will be held at the 36,000 capacity famous Bangabandhu National Stadium Dhaka, Pakistan have been placed in Group A with former champions Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The record seven-time champions India have been placed in Group B with Maldives and Sri Lanka. Two leading teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals to be held on September 12.

Pakistan are yet to win this event with only once having finished third. Hassan also praised PFF’s effort to manage a training tour of Bahrain for the team ahead of the international assignments.“It’s very good to have got a few matches. We need matches as they are meaningful,” Hassan said.

As many as 30 players and six officials will be moving to Bahrain on July 15. Pakistan are expected to play a game against Bahrain’s Under-23 team and some local clubs during the two-week tour. In the Asian Games, an Under-23 team, along with three senior players, will be fielded. In the SAFF Cup, a complete senior team can be played.

About Pakistan’s chances in the SAFF Cup, Hassan said that the team could at least qualify for the semi-finals.“It’s very realistic target. Although we have not played in international circuit for three years but considering our group there is a good chance to qualify at least for the semi-finals,” Hassan said.

Hassan will be taking three to four days rest due to a minor groin problem. “I have developed a minor groin issue but I’m confident to recover in three to four days,” the striker said.

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