Former Pakistan football captain Essa Khan has said that there is a need of a qualified foreign coach and upgraded facilities, which he believes are essential requirements to bring about an improvement in the game at the national level.
Essa, one of Pakistan’s most prolific strikers, said, “Our country needs an expert coach. The youngsters need specialists for proper guidance,” Essa, a veteran of 117 international appearances told The Express Tribune.
He said the foreign coaches hired by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) brought tremendous improvement among the players but the federation failed to retain them on a long-term basis.
“Pakistan did well under Bahrain’s Salman Sharida in the 2006 Asian Games and Austrian coach Geroge Kottan also brought some positive changes,” said Essa while adding that hiring a coach for a short-term will not serve any purpose.
He said Pakistan has enormous talent which needs a proper nurturing environment to match international standards.
“Players from top football nations get the environment in early childhood and if our youngsters get the same facilities we can definitely match their standards,” said the former captain.
He added that lack of international exposure is also one of the main reasons why the country that is ranked below150 in the world rankings.
“There should be more participation of Pakistan at the international stage. Our players get very little chance to play in offshore events,” said Essa who is currently representing KESC in the ongoing Super Football League.
PFF cannot afford foreign coach
Agreeing with Essa, the PFF secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said the federation also wants a foreign coach but it is an impossible task for the time being considering the PFF’s financial situation.
“We cannot hire a foreign coach as we don’t have enough funds,” said Lodhi before adding that the PFF has already sent a request to the government seeking financial assistance.
“We are hopeful that government will help us like they assisted the hockey federation,” added the secretary, pointing out Van Den Heuvel’s appointment as the national hockey team’s coach.
The PFF did not renew a one-year contract of coach George Kottan that expired last February as the federation had no money to bear the expenses of the Austrian coach, according to Lodhi.
“We spent over Rs10 million on the foreign coach and we did not have funds left to retain him.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2010.