KARACHI: Former KRL goalkeeper Saqib Hanif created history when he became the first goalkeeper from Pakistan to feature for an international club, but his debut in Maldives did not start off well as his club, BG Sports Club, lost 3-0 to Valencia in the Dhivehi Premier League.
Hanif, 22, was part of the opening match of the season of the Maldives top division and, despite the loss and the disappointment of conceding three goals in his first match, Hanif believes his stint will help him improve as a player.
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“Maldives will be a good experience for me,” Hanif told The Express Tribune. “It’s just the beginning of the season and I am hoping for it to get better. It was just my first match.”
Hanif proved his mettle with KRL and the national team and did enough to earn his call-up from BG Sports and national coach Shehzad Anwar, who recommended Hanif to BG Sports coach Mohamed Shaazly, believes Hanif can set a trend for budding goalkeepers.
“Hanif’s journey to reach the international circuit has been amazing and it is a big step for Pakistan football because before him there hasn’t been any goalkeepr who went abroad like this,” said Shehzad. “He is a hard working boy, and he came forward through our system, playing at the U13 national side in 2005.”
Shehzad further added that usually in Pakistan, goalkeepers are looked down upon and most players do not want to guard the post, with the majority opting to either become strikers or attacking midfielders.
“Hanif has also played as a striker for Division B club Pakistan Elektron Limited (PEL), but we needed someone to guard the post and he had the personality to do that,” said Shehzad. “He was the top scorer for PEL and that negates the more popular theory that a goalkeeper is not good with his feet. Most people want to be like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but with Hanif pursuing the path of a goalkeeper, who knows future generations may want to be like him. He can set a trend.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.
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