PFF exploring avenues to secure Roberts’ services

By Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
KARACHI: After losing Salman Ahmed Sharida when he was appointed as head coach of the Bahrain national team a few weeks ago, Pakistan’s football authorities are now left with an option of extending an offer to their former consultant Graham Roberts who is enjoying a break in England after playing a role of a consultant with the Pakistan football team during the Asian Games in China.
Roberts, whose services were hired by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) through sponsors for two months, has completed his contract and is now waiting for the PFF to come up with a fresh offer.
“I am enjoying the break and am waiting for the PFF to come up with an offer to my agents in December. I am looking forward to working with the Pakistani players and improving their skills,” thr former Yeovil and Clyde manager Roberts told ‘The News’ from England on Saturday.
The position will become clear in December as the PFF Director Marketing Sardar Naveed Haider is trying to negotiate the deal through the support of sponsors.
“Our marketing department is dealing with the case and it would be a blessing if we get his services back through the assistance of sponsors,” a top official of the PFF told ‘The News’.
Team sources said that Graham Roberts played a useful role during his brief stint with the Pakistan football team and the head coach Akhtar Mohiuddin and players were also very happy with the attitude and calibre of the consultant.
However, ‘The News’ learnt that it is difficult to hire Roberts but in case he is hired then he will be given the portfolio of a head coach instead of a consultant.
The PFF missed out a good opportunity to hire the services of a 50-year old former Pakistan coach Salman Ahmed Sharida when the federation acted too slowly in spite of his desire to serve Pakistan again.
According to a Gulf daily, Sharida, as a head coach, has taken the Bahraini team to Sana’a, Yemen, for the Gulf Cup which has started from November 22.
After ending at rock-bottom in the Asian Games, Pakistan football team has two vital assignments early next year for which the PFF needs to not only hire a foreign coach in time but also have to plan properly.
In the Olympic Qualifiers Pakistan will face Malaysia in the first round on home and away basis. The first-leg will be played at Kuala Lumpur on February 23 while the return leg will be held in Pakistan, most probably in Lahore on March 9. Pakistan Under-21 team will take part in the round.
The other assignment will be the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held from March 20 to 31 for which the venue is yet to be finalised. Pakistan have been placed in Group B with India, Turkmenistan and the winners of the play-off between Chinese Taipei and Laos.