July 28, 2007 / 5:29 AM / in 12 years

Pakistan scouts out British football talent

KARACHI (Reuters) - Pakistan’s football federation has turned to Britons of Pakistani origin in a bid to raise the level of their struggling national teams.

The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will conduct trials in northern England on Sunday and Monday to scout out British Pakistanis who they hope can give their national sides a much-needed boost.

“They are a lot of players of Pakistani origin in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland who are interested in playing for their mother country,” Saleh Faisal Hayat, the PFF President said on Saturday.

“We are giving them a chance to play for their country.”

Pakistan are currently 176th in the FIFA world rankings and have never qualified for the Asian Cup or the World Cup.

In the last two years, British-Pakistanis, Usman Gondal a former Leicester City youth player and Zeeshan Rahman, who has played for Fulham and Brighton, have represented the Pakistan national team.

But they returned home unhappy after disagreements over payment and have complained of a lack of professionalism in Pakistani football.

Hayat said the federation was looking for players for upcoming under-19 matches, Asia’s Challenge Cup in 2008 and qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, which he said were “crucial” to Pakistani football.

“We want to build up a strong base of talent for our teams,” he said.

The trials, which are the first of their kind, are being held in South Yorkshire with the help of the coaches and staff of League Two (fourth division) club Rotherham United.

“We want to utilise the skills of such players as obviously the level of football competition and quality in the UK is much higher than ours,” Hayat said.

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