Pakistan’s football coach Tariq Lutfi has said that the under-16 side’s triumphant Saff Championship campaign that was sealed by a win over India in the final has put a lot of pressure on his squad that is due to take on the Indian U-21 on their UK tour from August 29.
With a Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) camp for the series starting on August 19, Lutfi confirmed that the federation has decided to send an U-21 squad to the UK instead of the senior side after the juniors’ performance forced the federation to invest in youth.
“It’s a really encouraging sight to see the under -16 team doing so well in the Saff championship but it has put a lot of pressure on the national squad to beat India in the two-match series,” Lutfi told The Express Tribune. “Since the youngsters have defeated the Indian team in the final, it has set a difficult precedent for my team and now they have to beat India and win the series in the UK. There is a lot of pressure on the players from the fans and the federation.”
Meanwhile, Lutfi also confirmed that he is looking to include five or six UK-based footballers in the squad in order to balance the side against India who are a stronger side compared to Pakistan. He said that players like Atif Basheer, Adnan Farooq, Hasan Bashir and Nabeel Aslam will make a huge difference to the squad as they have been playing for different English clubs and are not only accustomed to the conditions but have a lot of experience as well.
According to the PFF, Pakistan will play two matches with India on September 3 and September 9 before taking on two local clubs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.