KARACHI: President Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah said that Pakistan football team will be determined to put a forceful show in the round 1 of World Cup Qualifiers against Cambodia next month.
PFF has called over 50 players for a camp ahead of the next month’s international assignment.
“We have called 32 players, who have played for Pakistan before. Our selectors are also short-listing another 20 players. The players aged between 18 to 23 years, who performed well in the recently concluded National Intercity Championship, will also join the camp,” Ashfaq told PPI.
The national camp commences today (Sunday) at Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad.
Pakistan and Cambodia are scheduled to play two matches next month – first at Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium in Cambodia on June 6 and the second leg match is expected to be hosted by Pakistan on June 11. Lahore’s Punjab Stadium would most likely host the second match and the venue is yet to be finalized.
However, the things are not certain whether the tie will either take place or not as football world body FIFA still recognizes former PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat as its head. Hayat has been removed and the new setup has taken over a few months back after elections, which were held under Supreme Court supervision. According to sources, Hayat may hinder and let Pakistan not feature in the tie.
Meanwhile, Ashfaq finds the legitimacy of his team’s on the basis of the work they have been doing. They have organized intercity tournament after holding regional trials nation-wide. Now they are endeavoring to prepare a strong side for the World Cup qualifier first round tie.
“We have been trying our best with determination for the betterment of football. Everyone knows where Pakistan football stands. If we can put the game on the right track, then everyone will support us. That is what we are looking to do,” Ashfaq said.
Pakistan’s national team player, Jadid Khan, who will also be joining the camp today (Sunday), said that after seeing the camp and federation’s activities, he was hopeful that FIFA would take the right decision in favor of Pakistan football, which is not banning the country.
He thinks that preventing Pakistan from featuring in World Cup Qualifier tie would not be in the best interest of football and FIFA is out there to support and promote football. It is the reason that Jadid pins hope to FIFA for taking the right decision and let Pakistan football come back on track.
FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials will come to Pakistan on May 28 to assess the issue before taking a fateful decision for Pakistan football.