Pakistan football: a victim of muddled priorities

Published: October 17, 2010
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Pakistan players and followers are ruing the lack of infrastructure on the domestic circuit, failing to match the international standards on show. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan players and followers are ruing the lack of infrastructure on the domestic circuit, failing to match the international standards on show. PHOTO: AFP

It is a commendable job on the Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) part that it is financing its team for the Asian Games in China next month after the Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) refusal to do so.

It also insinuates the fact that the PFF has enough money in their coffers or has the capability to generate funds at short notice despite their repeated claims of financial problems that led them to limit this year’s domestic events.

While sending its team to China but reluctance to invest in the domestic development of the game reveals nothing but a wrong set of priorities. Improving the game’s infrastructure, enlarging the canvas and raising the standard of the game is what the PFF should be after. The mentioned acts will develop football in the country while participation in the Asian Games – and grouped with Oman (92nd), Thailand (102nd), Maldives (143rd) – the 162nd-ranked Pakistan may show flashes of improvement but progress to the knock-out stage would be a miracle.

The PFF prioritises its activities to provide the national team with maximum – often fruitless – exposure at the international circuit. But at a time when the domestic season is on, the decision to pull the players from there, join a long training camp and then send them to a relatively low-profile event is a strange one.

Similarly, with the domestic league on, there is no use for a long camp. The players can just as easily be picked on the basis of their performance as a short camp of under a week is enough. The Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifiers are the more important events and even among the South-Asian nations, the SAFF Championship is an important and respectable event. But as far as the Asian Games is concerned, the under-23 event is deemed not so important.

Furthermore, relying on foreign help is not appropriate. Inclusion of foreign players in the national outfit and the recent hiring of Graham Roberts as coaching consultant might not go help Pakistan football. In fact, that is something that may make the newly-appointed coach Akhter Mohiuddin uncomfortable. Roberts has been hired for only two months while it is believed that Pakistan would need his services later when the Olympics and World Cup qualifiers are held next year.

Foreign players are only good if they are plying their trade in the top division of their national leagues. With the exception of Zesh Rehman and Adnan Farooq, there are no players who can boast experience and calibre. When they played for Pakistan a couple of years ago, the team benefited but unfortunately, neither has rejoined the team since.

Quality is a requirement missing in Pakistan football and it is unfortunate that the PFF has no idea how to obtain that or inject it in the squad.

M Wasim is a freelance sports writer

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Jazib
    Oct 18, 2010 - 5:33PM

    As a long time fan and supporter of the Pakistani football team, what I’d like to say is the public or the sports ministry don’t really care about our team at all. In my opinion, sending our team to the event is important and this event should not be missed as it is a chance to play against proper teams, and its been a while since pakistan played. I think your assumption that Zesh Rehman did not return for the team is incorrect, he was there when Pakistan drew 0-0 to Iraq (asian champions mind you) in Syria. Adnan, who plays for FC Tenevirese, the top team in Hungary, always makes an important contribution to the team

    You see the actual reason why football in Pakistan has not still developed as a proper professional sport is because no one really cares about our team or the game in Pakistan. Yes, everyone will cheer for Liverpool, Manchester United and FC Barcelona from the comfort of their homes, but cheer for or support the Pakistani football team? The thought never even crosses their mind. So unless we start taking Pakistani football seriously, the game is already half lost, our ranking was better 4 years ago then it is now. Essa Khan, a gem of a player, has not been recalled by the PFF to join the squad. Essa Khan’s excuse for exiting the team (early retirement) was due to the reason that he naturally plays as a striker while George Kottan was playing him winger. The most important player that Pakistan needs is Essa Khan, but the PFF does not care. Neither does anyone else.Recommend

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