KARACHI, Aug 5: Pakistan soccer received a huge boost on Saturday when English Premier League club Charlton Athletic drafted two Karachi United players from Pakistan into their under-13 side for a match against a visiting American club.

Atif Sachak and Kareem Kerai of Karachi United Youth Academy (KUYA), who are on a two-week training tour with Charlton Athletic Youth Academy in United Kingdom, became overnight stars after they were chosen by the Charlton Athletic coach to play against Super Clubs.

According to reports reaching here, the two youngsters are really excited about the forthcoming opportunity of representing the English outfit against the American side on Monday in London.

“Everybody has been really nice to us including all the boys at the Academy. We are really excited about the match on Monday. To be part of a Charlton squad for an Academy match is like a dream,” said Kareem after the session.

Atif, however, has been facing a race against time as he is nursing a knee injury he received during training few days ago. But while the youngster is excited and looks forward to playing for one of the leading English Premier clubs, he is also hopeful that he will recover before the match.

“The training tour has been a great experience for us and has improved our knowledge and skills of the game. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I am passed fit by the club physio on Monday.

“It has been really a great experience. We want to leave with a good impression and hopefully the match will provide us a perfect opportunity to enhance our skills,” says Atif.

The two players will be the first to represent Pakistan in a youth team of a Premiership Club when they make their Charlton debuts.

Imran Ali, the director of the KUYA was elated on the opportunity the two players have been provided by the Charlton who are former FA Cup winners and finished 13th last season.

“We are all obviously very excited. The boys have played at the highest level and shown that they can not only compete but succeed amongst the very best young players in the UK,” Imran told Dawn on Saturday.

The KUYA official said that not only Atif and Kareem had managed to cope well in different surroundings and foreign coaching methods, but had left an indelible impact in their sessions.

According to Imran, the pair had proved through their technique, skills and attitude that Pakistan had a tremendous potential of becoming a soccer power in future. The latest development, indeed, is a good omen for Pakistan football which is struggling to regain its lost glory.

Pakistan produced several greats at the Asian level during the 1960s but politics and lack of will within Pakistan Football Federation has destroyed the game in the past two decades.

Karachi United, who also run a local league annually on the pattern of English Premier League, made headlines in 2003 when they became the first club to train with an English Premiership club by training at Manchester United Soccer Schools.

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