The Pakistan Football Team is set to face Philippines and Chinese Taipei in the second edition of the Philippines Peace Cup, which will be held from October 11th to 15th in the city of Bacolod, Philippines. The Pak Shaheens, currently ranked 170 in the FIFA rankings will have their work cut out against the Azkals and the Taiwanese booters, who are ranked 141 and 175 respectively.
A PFF official confirmed Pakistan will be featuring in the event, and a list of the PPL fixtures that are to be postponed due to the training camp for the event and then the competition itself. Pakistan will be preparing for the Cup under a new coach, as Bahrain’s Mohammed Al Shamlan takes over from Serbian Zaviša Milosavljević.Shamlan was also appointed as consultant in the SAFF Championship, where the Shaheens crashed out in the preliminary stage, despite showing good progress as a footballing unit.
Shamlan has invited a group of 26 players to the preparatory camp, as he looks to build a strong side from all the budding talent in the country. 4 foreign players are also among the 26, including goalkeeper Yousuf Butt, who will be facing competition from Saqib Hanif and Muzammil Husain to be first choice between the posts for the new coach. Ex-Fulham defender Zesh Rehman will be looking to continue his good performances in the SAFF Cup at the back. Also coming from Denmark to shore the striking ranks of the team are Hassan Bashir and Mohammad Ali, the latter of who is making a comeback after missing the SAFF Cup due to injury.
Shamlan has also recalled Chitral-based striker Muhammad Rasool to the side, who had been missing from the picture due to his fallout with former coach Zavisa. New faces in the draft of the players in the camp include Mehmood Khan, Zainullah, Rizwan Asif, Mohammad Bilal and Syed Arif. 10 of the players among the 26 play for KRL in the PPl, the side who recently made history by becoming the first Pakistani Club to qualify for the final of the AFC Presidents’ Cup.
Shamlan said the Green Shirts would also play a game against Macau, while in Philippines. He also said that once the tour is wrapped up, he would come down to Karachi and try and watch as much of the matches of the Premier League as possible to make sure he chooses the best players from the domestic circuit. “I believe in quality. I have not watched Premier League matches in Karachi but I have selected players from Karachi. And slowly and gradually most of the talented stuff will come to the mainstream,” he added.
In what was a disappointing early exit from the SAFF Championships, Pakistan showed signs of promise when they drew with the hosts Nepal and defeated Bangladesh in a thriller, only to be ousted of the tournament because of a poor head-to-head record against arch rivals India. Shamlan and his team will be looking to make things right this time around, as they aim to validate the claims of PFF officials who are adamant that Pakistan are on way to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.