KARACHI: Pakistan Premier Football League champions K-Electric became the first local team to rope in two players and a coach from England for their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifying campaign that will begin on August 9 in Bhutan.
K-Electric’s Head of Sports Marketing and Brand Activation Zabe Khan said that the addition of Shani Abbasi and Irfan Khan will give an edge to the team, as the duo have played in England.
Meanwhile, Majid Shafiq will be the head coach for the AFC Cup qualifiers camp, bringing in his experience as an FA qualified coach and a former director of the Stalybridge Celtic Academy.
The trio from England will join the camp that will begin from July 24 to prepare for the AFC event, where they will compete against Bhutan’s Druk United and Mongolia’s Khoromkhon FC.
“We’re getting a coach and two players from England along with two others from Nigeria because we just don’t want to participate, we want to win,” Zabe told The Express Tribune. “Shafiq is willing to help us without charging a single penny, while Shani and Irfan are both of Pakistani origin, so it would be handy to have footballers who know what it’s like to play both in England and Pakistan.”
Shani, 21, is a product of the Sheffield Wednesday’s Football Academy, and went on to play for Osset Farsley AFC and Wakefield FC. He also appeared for trials at Huddersfield Town in the US.
Meanwhile, Irfan, 26, has played in the capacity of a semi-professional footballer for Thackley United and Bradford Park Avenue.
Both players have represented Pakistan at the junior levels at U23 and U21 teams.
According to Zabe, K-Electric have arranged a two-week training camp at the Pakistan Steel Mills. “We’ve hired the Pakistan Steel Mills facility so that our team can train there,” he said. “It’s more like a boot camp as the local players had their training and physical conditioning before Ramazan.”
Meanwhile, K-Electric’s local coach Hasan Baloch feels that Shafiq’s addition will bring a big difference to the team. “I’m sure our local players will learn from him,” said Baloch. “We are prepared, we’ll have 20 players in the camp, and it’s up to us to ensure that they are in top form.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015.
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