PAF coach Mohammad Arshad has simple advice for his players if they want to win the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) – score atleast three goals in every match.
Arshad, who has spent 18 years as a PAF midfielder, knows that this season is as good a chance as ever to end the team’s 26-year trophy draught. PAF currently sit fourth with 40 points, having scored the second-highest goals in the league so far. Their competitors have confirmed that they have improved the most in the last few months – PAF finished a disappointing 11th last season. But for Arshad, the deciding factor will be the goal difference for the top five. So, in order to ensure his team has enough goals to challenge for the trophy, Arshad has packed the team with four extra strikers – Mansoor Khan from Mardan FC, 18-year-old Mohammad Sher who used to play for Pel, Bilal Sher and Waseem Shah.
“Our major opponents are KRL, Army and KESC but I’m confident we can emerge winners,” Arshad told The Express Tribune. “It’s mostly about goal-difference now which is why I’ve invested more in strikers.”
Captain backs coach’s role
Echoing Arshad’s view, team captain Mohammad Zeeshan, who has been part of the team for seven years, said that the players’ good show and success can easily be attributed to Arshad’s hard work after having taken up a coaching role for the first time. PAF, according to Zeeshan, needed a fresh perspective and Arshad brought just that.
“Our team was one of the weakest last season but getting Sher was a good move,” said Zeeshan. “We needed to work on our fitness and Arshad made us do a lot of that for four months prior to the league. That helped us a lot and now, before every match, he tells every striker individually to score a goal each.”
‘It’s all about availing opportunities’
Mohammad Mujahid has been the team’s highest-scorer with 12, while Mansoor has scored seven. But, according to Mujahid who has seen three coaches walk out in the last five years, good coaches make strong teams and despite the experience, senior players alone cannot guarantee a trophy.
“I have played with Arshad and now that he’s the coach, the communication is a lot better and at the end of the day it’s not about winning but feeling good about availing opportunities,” said Mujahid. “Arshad has been the driving force behind the team’s good run. He has proved that a good coach can deliver a good performance with a comparatively weaker side too.”
Even the opponents believe in that – KPT manager Shah Naeem confirmed that stronger sides had strong coaches. While PAF remain the underdogs, finding a coach from former players has made a huge difference and their move to shift their home ground from Islamabad to Peshawar has been a great move, according to Naeem.
“Looking at PAF’s success in the season, we are also looking for a new coach from among the former players,” said Naeem. “Coaches shape the teams and Arshad has done a phenomenal job with his former club.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.