Roberts: Players lack concentration

Umar Farooq

LAHORE: Pakistan’s football consultant Graham Roberts believes the players are lacking the required level of concentration which remains the only hindrance to their success against tough opposition.

“We had extensive training sessions and if I compare my first day to this day, the players are improving but they have to work on their mental toughness because they lack concentration,” Roberts told The Express Tribune. “Apart from that, they’re really good and talented.” Pakistan head coach Akhtar Mohiuddin echoed Roberts’ views while placing complete satisfaction with his input at the Asian Games training camp in Lahore.

“I can clearly see a difference with his inclusion in the coaching camp as his exposure to international football has helped the squad enormously,” said Mohiuddin. “The vital thing is that he’s trying to bring in the required levels of concentration and helping the boys find mental toughness.”

Roberts’ appointment is an eight-week contract for the preparation of the Asian Games starting next month in Guangzhou. It will be Pakistan’s eighth appearance at the Games. A place in the knockout round remains a possibility for Pakistan providing favourable results against Maldives, Thailand and Oman come their way.

“We’re training hard and working particularly on our fitness, shooting, defence and the likely formations. After Lahore, we’ll be training in Islamabad as our tour of Korea has been cancelled. I’m impressed with the squad’s eagerness to learn, to ask questions and utilise my experience and exposure to international football. This is a good sign and I’m glad they’re learning and am sure with more games that they play, they will improve.”

Roberts also remained confident that Pakistan will ease through to the knockout stage and the squad was talented enough to win at least three games in the group stage. “I’m sure we will take on Maldives and Thailand with ease and give a tough time to the Omanis,” assured Roberts.

“After that, we don’t know who we will be pitted against but obviously we’ll hope for a good result because that’s all that matters.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2010.