New coach can pull off a surprise: Adnan Ahmed

Pakistan vice captain joins football team ahead of SAFF Championship.

Natasha Raheel August 28, 2013
Ahmed says there is immense football talent in Pakistan but it hasn’t been utilised well. PHOTO: FILE AFP


The Pakistan football team has had its fair share of problems with creating and scoring goals, but the inclusion of vice captain Adnan Ahmed in the midfield could change things, according to striker Kaleemullah.

The creative midfielder joined the squad on Monday in Kathmandu as the side prepares for its South Asian Football (Saff) Championship opener against arch-rivals India on September 1

Kaleemullah said the current Pakistan side lacks creativity – as evident in the 3-0 loss to Afghanistan recently – and the addition of Ahmed could bring the much needed spark in the midfield.

“There is a lot of gap in the midfield,” he said. “We need players that can convert defence into attack with sublime passes and Ahmed can provide them. We currently rely on the striker to create as well as score goals and that is not working at all. Ahmed is a schemer and will create many goal-scoring opportunities for our strikers.”

The 29-year-old UK-based footballer Ahmed said winning the championship will be an uphill task but the new Bahraini coach Mohamed Shamlan believes Pakistan is more than capable of pulling off a surprise.

“I joined the team a couple of days ago and we are working on our formation at the moment,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.

“Winning the championship will be a difficult task but with the new coach, new ideas and strategies, you never know. It’s a good thing because every player wants to impress the new coach and that will bring the best out of them. It’ll improve us as a team.

“Hopefully we can pull off some surprise performances in the championship.”

Pakistan is placed in Group A with India, hosts Nepal and Bangladesh. The national side has been training in two sessions everyday since Saturday and drew a preparatory match with Nepal U19 1-1 on Tuesday.

Ahmed hoped his inclusion would benefit the team and help it convert the draws into wins.

“Compared to Zavisa Milosavljevic, Shamlan will be a different coach,” he said. “Our previous coach wanted us to go into attack immediately, while Shamlan wants us to play smart with more passes in the midfield. It’s up to us to perform well now, a coach can only do so much.”

Ahmed, who began his career at the Manchester United Academy in 1995, will bring in the experience of more than a decade.

While he continued to play in the lower division teams in England, Ahmed also featured in the Hungarian and Iranian league. He represented Pakistan in the Asian Football Federation Challenge Cup qualifiers earlier this year, Singapore tour last year and the 2011 Saff Championship in 2011.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2013.

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