Tough international play

August 12, 2017

Multicultural flavour. Pakistan (green) and Germany pose for a photo at the end of their match during the AFL International Cup. Shepparton's Abas Ali is a member of the Pakistani side.

Helping out: Shepparton's Abas Ali shepherds team mate Nawid Najafi who claims possession.

Shepparton’s Abas Ali will continue to perform as part of the Pakistan side competing at the AFL International Cup this month.

The Undera footballer is a member of the Pakistani back line, competing at the tournament which started last weekend, running until August 19.

Matt Embling is in charge of coaching the side, bringing across expertise with experience as part of the coaching ranks at Collingwood’s AFL Women’s side as well as VFL club Sandringham.

He said Ali was a versatile player with plenty of skills to lend to the side.

‘‘Abas plays mostly in the back line but also in the midfield, his energy is fantastic and the club is really proud of the way he’s embraced playing,’’ Embling said.

‘‘He’s been really great and embraced the whole process and has been playing some good footy at home.

‘‘A couple of Sundays ago I said, ‘you got in the best’ (for Undera) and he said, ‘how do you know?’ — but I keep tracking these things.’’

The Pakistan Shaheens receive their nickname from a type of falcon found in South-East Asia and have started the tournament with some tough competition.

The Shaheens were defeated by Germany in their first match, before also going down to Japan in a more competitive encounter.

Players have flown in for the event, with at least nine footballers and plenty of talented cricketers part of the Pakistani team.

Embling is thrilled with the success of the carnival so far, as international players from nations including India, Indonesia and Croatia all bond together.

‘‘Multiculturalism in Australia is a massive thing ... there are plenty of diverse backgrounds and different nationalities in Shepparton,’’ Embling said.

‘‘I’ve been coaching for 14 years and the passion seen from these guys is unparalleled, their rawness to win the football and support each other is fantastic.’’

The men’s and women’s grand finals of the tournament will be played as curtain raisers to round 22 AFL matches.

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