Eight British-Pakistani players to be announced

Pakistan Football Federation President Faisal Saleh Hayat said eight British-Pakistani players picked from the Rotherham FC trials in England are expected to link up with teams in the coming Pakistan Premier League being played in October. “No matter they are British citizens now, these players are eligible to line up for Pakistan football teams because of their family heritage,” the PFF chief told Pakistan Times.

“We want to boost the PPL with the presence of foreign players, and above all to improve our national squad. We are taking seriously the next year’s 11th South Asian Games where our U-23 team will aim zealously for hat-tricks of gold,” said Hayat. “Several talented players of Pakistan origin are living abroad and we are well prepared to utilise their skill for our coming assignments in the international football circuit,” he added.

He said some of them will be challenging for a spot in the Pakistan starting lineup, ahead of the 7th SAFF Championship (Sri Lanka/Maldives), 19th World Cup qualifiers and Second AFC Challenge Cup 2008 (Taiwan). Four youngsters could be in the national colors even sooner, when Pakistan takes on Arab nations Syria, Yemen, Oman, Qatar plus Central Asian Kyrgyzstan in the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers (Group-A) from 17-28 October .

There are reportedly almost 750,000 Pakistani expatriates living in England but not one currently plays in the Premier League and just three are on the books of England’s lower league clubs. Prominent among them is Zesh Rahman who spent three seasons with Fulham FC before joining Queens Park Rangers last year. He wore Pakistani colours in December 2005’s 6th SAFF Championship despite qualifying for the England U-19 team.