KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has expressed its apprehension about the national team’s performance in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship 2013 next month in Nepal.
PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said the national team needs to improve its scoring ability drastically in order to win. He emphasised that the players need to pay equal attention to their finishing on the field.
“My biggest concern is that our team doesn’t score in international events,” Lodhi told The Express Tribune. “For some reason, our players can’t score goals and I have personally told coach Zavisa Milosavljevic and the players to improve. They ought to take my words as a warning. I’m not satisfied with the national team at the moment.
“The problem of not scoring seems to be common in all our teams. I was very disappointed with the performance of the U16 squad last month. They had the same problem; they couldn’t score at the SAFF U16 Championship either. Playing a goalless draw is not good enough.”
Despite the team’s disappointing performance at the international level, Lodhi said the PFF will still provide them international matches to prepare for the SAFF Championship.
He said that the federation agreed to send the players for friendly matches against Bangladesh and Afghanistan this month that will help the players gauge the competition beforehand.
“We have booked friendly matches with Bangladesh and if we get the visas on time we will leave on August 12,” said Lodhi. “We want to take the team to Afghanistan from there but that is not confirmed yet. It all depends on the visa process. We want to give exposure to the players and the federation will make sure that it has done its job.”
Meanwhile, 18 out of 27 players including Kaleemullah, Jaffar Khan, Saeed Ahemd, Samar Ishaq have joined the camp who will train in Lahore for a week with Milosavljevic.
Lodhi said that the team will be preparing for the friendly tours first. In an official statement issued by the PFF, Pakistan will play two matches in Bangladesh on August 13 and 16, whereas the team will play one match in Afghanistan on August 20.
Pakistan will be playing in Group A of the championship with India, Bangladesh and Nepal, while Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are slotted in Group B.
Pakistan will start their campaign in Kathmandu on September 1 against the defending champions India. They won the last edition of SAFF Championship in 2011 when they defeated Afghanistan 4-0 in the final.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2013.
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