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Pakistan U22 take on Vietnam today

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The News

Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Pakistan Under-22 football team will be looking for their first hunt — which will put them in the semifinals — on Wednesday (today) when they face Vietnam in their Group A opener of the Al-Nakba International Football tournament at the Majed Asad Stadium in Palestine as per revised draws.

The match starts at 7:00pm PST.

Pakistan were scheduled to meet Sri Lanka in their opener on Monday but after the pullout of Uzbekistan the draws were revised and the match of the Greenshirts was cancelled because Sri Lanka were placed in Group C with Jordon and Tunisia.

Hosts Palestine is the other team in Pakistan’s Group. Group B contains Indonesia, Mauritania and Iraq’s Kurdistan.

Pakistan’s assistant coach Nasir Ismail told ‘The News’ from Palestine on Tuesday that all the players were fit and ready for drawing the first blood. “All the players are prepared to take on Vietnam,” he said. He said that Palestine defeated Vietnam 2-0 in their opening game which shows if Pakistan managed to beat Vietnam they would move into the semifinals to be held on May 21.

Media reports suggest that Vietnam have fielded their Under-19 team and it will be a great opportunity for Pakistan’s well-prepared side to emerge triumphant, having players who have been part of the national team.

Nasir said that the tournament is being played on artificial turf. “Although playing on artificial turf demands more stamina from the players, we are confident that our boys will extend their best as they are all well fit and have been playing competitive football for the last few weeks,” he said.

The competitions are being held under round robin system and a leading team from each group and the best second-placed side from the three groups will make it to the semifinals.

The matches are being held at the Faisal Husseini Stadium, Alram, Nablus Municipal Stadium, Nablus, Majed Asad Stadium, Albireh, Alhussein Ben Ali Stadium, Hebron, and Dura Stadium, Dura.

This is the first time that Pakistan will be playing on the soil of Palestine. Pakistan were scheduled to visit Palestine last year, but their tour was scrapped after the Israeli government refused to issue NOC to the Palestine Football Association (PFA). Palestine visited Pakistan last year and played one match each at Karachi and Lahore against the hosts’ side who were preparing for the Olympic Qualifiers.

The event will help Pakistan prepare for the Asian Cup Qualifiers to be held in Saudi Arabia from June 23 to July 3. Pakistan have been in regular practice as they toured Thailand last month for a two-week training.

Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic deems the event in Palestine an opportunity for his team to prepare for the vital event in Saudi Arabia. “Although I cannot predict what performance Pakistan will produce, I believe my charges have the capability to produce surprise,” Zavisa told this correspondent hours before leaving for Palestine on last Saturday night. “Our basic aim is to give some exposure to the boys by fielding them in such tournaments ahead of the event in Sadui Arabia,” he said.

Squad: Saqib Hanif, Muzammil Hussain, Tanvir Mumtaz, Manzoor Ahmad, Faisal Iqbal, Naveed Ahmad, Mohammad Usman, Ihsanullah, Saddam Hussain, Mohammad Aadil, Sheram Babar, Kaleemullah, Mehmood Khan, Sher Muhammad, Junaid Qadir, Bilawal-ur-Rehman, Imran Ali Khan, Afzal Salam, Mohammad bin Younis, Zakir Lashari, Mohsin Ali, Aamir Siddiqui. Reserves: Usama Halim

Officials: Zavisa Milosavljevic (head coach/manager), Nasir Ismail (assistant coach), Aslam Khan (goalkeeping coach), Dr Kamran Mehdi (physiotherapist).


Source:                 http://www.thenews.com.pk/