Probables named for camp ahead of Singapore tour
Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic made no secret of his desire for foreign-based players as he named eight overseas players in the list of 26 probables for the national team's training camp ahead of their two friendly matches in Singapore.
Eight players from Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) leaders Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) were also picked with the league's topscorer Kaleemullah heading that list. Three days later and for that assignment, the national team will undergo a four-day training camp at the PFF House in Lahore from Nov 10 to 14.
The foreign-based players, however, will not be in attendance at the camp and will reach Singapore directly. "The plan is to compose, create a team that can then be a winning outfit for the all-important AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers," Milosavljevic told Dawn from Lahore. "It is our first interna- tional match in more than a year so it is necessary for the players to get a good workout."
Star defender Zesh Rehman heads the list of overseas players with the towering centrehalf making a welcome return to the national team after a gap of more than a year.
Zesh, who plays for Hong Kong club Kitchee, is enjoying great club form having led his side to the treble of the Hong Kong First Division title, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
The former Fulham player could be a part of an all-foreign defensive line for Pakistan with Omar Malik, a defender from Norwegian second division side FK Tonsburg, and left-back Shabbir Khan, who plays lowerleague football in Birmingham.
Surprisingly, Berlin-born Atif Bashir, who plays for Welsh side Barry Town, has been named in the squad despite the defender suffering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Also amongst the foreign contingent are Thailand-based striker Hassan Bashir who plays for Bangkok club Big Bang Chula United FC, midfielder Adnan Farooq Ahmed who plays lower-league football in England and has also played in the Iranian first division, and Denmark-based striker Mohammad Ali.
Another Denmark-based player is goalkeeper Yousuf Ejaz Butt who plays for Danish second division side Birkerod IF Skjold but will have to fight it out with Pakistan Army's veteran goalkeeper Jaffar Khan for the No.1 jersey.
Kaleemullah and KRL have been in top form in the PPFL and it was no surprise to see eight of their players in the team. Milosavljevic, though, believes that only time will tell whether Kaleemullah is as good a player at international level as he is in the league. "There is a huge gulf in class between the international level and the level of the league here in Pakistan," the Pakistan coach said. "We'll have to see if Kaleemullah can transform his domestic form to that level."