Roberts’ Pakistan to face Robson’s Thailand in Asian Games

New Pakistan football coach Graham Roberts will face former England team-mate Bryan Robson in his first game in charge at the Asian Games in November.

Former Tottenham and Chelsea defender Roberts, who accepted the role last week, will take on ex-England skipper Robson’s Thailand at the event.

“It’s a bit of an experience for me but I’m looking forward to it,” Roberts told BBC London 94.9.

“Against Robbo – well, we’ll both be wearing shinpads on the halfway line.”

Former Yeovil and Clyde manager Roberts – who won six caps for England in the 1980s – will fly out to Lahore on Tuesday on an initial eight-week contract with the side currently ranked 162nd in the world by the sport’s governing body Fifa.

He said he had been in contact with former Pakistan captain Zesh Rehman, who is currently playing for League Two side Bradford City, in order to find out more about the current crop of players at his disposal.

“I know there are a few players in Denmark , there’s one in Oman – they’re all over – but what you have to do is to have those players wanting to come and play for Pakistan,” he said.

“At the moment they’re saying that they turn up and it’s lackadaisical.

“I’ve spoken to five or six of them and the players I’ve checked out are all keen and they want to play.

“Zesh has helped me – he’s got in touch with players and said, ‘look, it’s going to be more professional, we’re going to get a good side and we’re going to have a go at winning things’.”

Roberts turned down the opportunity to work in England to take the role with Pakistan.

“It’s nothing to do with money. I had a chance to have an interview for two jobs in England and I turned them down because I wanted to have a chance of doing this,” he stated.

“I want a challenge. I’m not an easy-going person and I just thought if I can do this, other things will come my way anyway.

“Because Pakistan have had bad publicity with the cricket at the moment, I think this is a good opportunity to go there and rebuild Pakistan football.”

The football tournament of the Asian Games takes place from 7-26 November in Guangzhou in China, with the event proper running from 12-27 November.

Pakistan also face Oman and Maldives in their group at the tournament, which is similar to the Olympics in that it is run as an under-23 tournament with three over-aged players allowed per squad.

Story from BBC SPORT: … 080536.stm

Published: 2010/10/11 13:22:38 GMT