PSL enters final stage as international cricketers arrive in Lahore

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(AN photo by Malik Shafiq)
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(AN photo by Malik Shafiq)
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(AN photo by Malik Shafiq)
Updated 20 March 2018

PSL enters final stage as international cricketers arrive in Lahore

LAHORE: Most of the foreign cricket players participating in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and linked with three teams – Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi, and Karachi Kings — arrived in Lahore on Tuesday.
As the PSL enters its final stage, cricket fever is running high across Pakistan.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is satisfied with the number of foreign players in Lahore and said it was a “good instrumental move” for the revival of international cricket in the country.
“The arrival of this big number of foreign cricketers will encourage the international teams to visit Pakistan. We will try to hold all PSL matches in our country next year,” PCB Media Director Amjad Bhatti told Arab News.
Peshawar Zalmi is missing its foreign player Dwayne Smith, while other international stars Darren Sammy, Liam Dawson, Evin Lewis, Andre Fletcher, Tamim Iqbal and Chris Jordan reached Lahore in the small hours of Tuesday.
Karachi Kings teammates Ravi Bopara, Tymal Mills, Joe Denly, David Wiese, Lendl Simmons and Colin Ingram were also on the same flight.
Quetta Gladiators, however, are missing one of their big players, Kevin Pietersen.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to leave Dubai and go back to London,” Pietersen in a video message. “It is a family decision and I hope you will respect it.”
Other Quetta Gladiators players Rilee Rossouw, Chris Green, Mahmudullah and Thisara Perera, however, reached Pakistan to represent the team in a semifinal.
The people of Lahore are disappointed about the absence of a few star players from the tournament.
“As a passionate cricket fan, I feel bad that we won’t see Kevin Pietersen and Shane Watson in action on Pakistani soil, ” said Hamayion Zafar. “Most of my friends are KP’s fans. We had just bought tickets to watch him play in Lahore.”
Since Tuesday morning the weather in Lahore has been cloudy and the Met Office has said intermittent light showers will continue throughout the day, even at the time scheduled for play, but the traditional “braveheart” Lahorites are not deterred by that.
“The rain cannot stop us,” an excited Raghoo Bajwa told Arab News
The City District has hung banners to welcome international cricketers on roads around the city, especially Mall Road, Canal Bank, Gulberg and Ferozepur Roads.
Lahore will host the two PSL playoffs and the final will be in Karachi on March 25.
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”