Sticking with the tried, tested and failed…

By a guest writer

In our country we have a habit of bringing back the tried, tested and the failed. Our current PPP government for example, has been overthrown thrice on corruption charges and is now in charge for the fourth time. The party leading the opposition isn’t any different and has also been dismissed twice on the same charges and is probably destined to serve a third term too. You may ask how that is relevant to our football team but it is.

Pakistan Football Federation has reiterated once again that it will stick with Akhtar Mouhiyyudin should they fail to secure the funding to appoint Englishman Graham Roberts as their new coach. Akhtar falls into this tried, tested and failed category quite easily because under his leadership Pakistan has failed to progress at all during his first stint as head coach from 2007 to 2008. A year in between was given to the Austrian George Kottan who showed some promise but he then ran out of time and couldn’t win any silverware which is the criteria on which coaches are judged on in football. Not Akhtar though! In Pakistan we often miss the obvious and mostly the people in charge do it.

PFF claims that it has made tremendous strides to take the game forward but the FIFA Ranking’s doesn’t lie, we were 151st in 2006 and 170th in 2010. And it is a the fact that we had only 1 paid foreign coach on a 1 year contract under the 8 years of current the PFF Leadership, Salman Sharida  from 2005 to 2006 and in 2004 we had Wang Xiao for free. They are the only coaches to win any silverware in the last 8 years. Still the PFF sticks with domestic coaches when it is evident that they have failed to deliver and PFF should continue to stick with a foreign coach even if it means financial cutbacks in other areas, some Federations even take loan out in order to finance it.

There is a way if there is will, and this was shown by PFF when the shut their critics by raising 9 million Rupees to pay for Asian Games which was seen as a great achievement for the Faisal Saleh Hayat led PFF. What did it tell us? It showed us that the PFF can work and deliver if required but need the will to do so. Many argued that it was an ego pleaser for Faisal who challenged the POA to show what he can do; I was one who looked it from football point of view and supported PFF. Now the PFF has no money to finance the foreign coach who came for 8 weeks with a view of extension, which is normally given if you’ve impressed the organization and which was true in this case, just that there is no sign of a contract yet.

One question comes to mind, if PFF was ‘determined’ to raise money for the Asian Games and managed to arrange them, where is the determination now? Their hopelessness suggests they aren’t and not hiring Graham will be a massive blow, especially the amount of publicity the Pakistani football has received in last 2 months compared to the 8years of Faisal Saleh’s reign.

Now all this compels me to change my opinion on the Asian Games, that maybe after all this was done to please the ego of a feudal, industrialist politician and not done in the best interest of the sport. 9million Rs spent on Asian Games with no long term strategy, it now holds less importance compared to what 9million could potentially have been used for. Appointing a foreign coach for a year would have led to insuring stability and continuity for the National senior and Youth Teams.

Coach for a year would have gone a long way in helping the football here with such a busy schedule in 2011, there couldn’t have been a better investment. We are now at the mercy of a local coach who needs no introduction to failure at National Team level. This is where PFF is once again missing the obvious by sticking with Akhtar in particular otherwise a domestic coach with a good track record could be worth giving a chance to.

Someone like Khaled Butt of WAPDA, who has led them to 4 league titles in last 7 seasons and second place finish on 3 occasions, can fit the bill if it has to be a local coach! He has also managed to reach semi finals of AFC President Cup and has gone a season unbeaten with WAPDA. Now to say that man is under-qualified just because he doesn’t have A Licence or something is pure insult to his CV, compare that to somebody who has A Licence, Shezad Anwar, who has hardly got any experience coaching a Premier League level. Nobody comes near achievements of Khaled Butt as far as domestic coach is concerned and Akhtar doesn’t even have great deal of experience in coaching in PPL and yet he is the obvious choice.

First reason comes to mind is that he is seen as a ‘yes man’ by the people in charge and can sack him at will and appoint him. He is so rigid in his ways that he could be described as Pakistani version of Raymond Domenech from 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He is hell bent on playing players out of position, right footed right backs as left backs and vice versa and sticking with his favorites irrespective of how poor they are performing.  His poor decision making is evident as always, dating back to the Iraq game when he subbed Tanveer Ahmed at Half Time trialing Asian Champions by 2 goals to bring on Yasir Sabir, one of the poorest centre backs in the country and the final score line read 7-0. This has become a continuous feature in his team selection and team organization, which has led to the downfall of the team and responsibility thus solely, lies with him.

Foreign coaches come in with a mindset of winning matches and trophies and enhancing their reputation where as Akhtar has proved to be a front man to the establishment and winning seems to be least of his worries. A foreign coach plans long time and arranges friendly matches and tours abroad whereas under Akhtar Pakistan lacks that, he has failed to demand such training camps and friendly matches abroad and the consequences of that have been dire as highlighted above, massive failures in every event and no sign of improvement in performance. Pakistan runs on ad-hocism and PFF and the National Team are not immune from it.

To conclude, hiring a foreign coach or Graham Roberts in particular will define the future of Pakistani football as it’s evident from our neighbour India where Bob Houghton has helped change their mentality towards national team and domestic structure. The current coach will continue to lead the team into more misery especially when it has wealth of talent at home and abroad which needs little bit of motivation and organization in order to succeed. $100,000 is not a lot of money for a coach, peanuts for PFF president and he can pay it from his pocket if football is any concern to him but we won’t be seeing that anytime soon.

One wonders if PFF is playing a trick here by taking Touchsky Sports for a ride and enjoying the huge publicity but waiting for Salman Sharida to be relieved of his duties from Bahrain National Team where he faces tough task of getting out of group stages in Asian Cup playing against heavyweights South Korea and Australia. If PFF does follow that it would be massive coup but a huge embarrassment at the same time when it falsely led a person of Graham Roberts’ caliber to such ploy and then dump him. Remember it is only the football and the image of Pakistan that will suffer nothing else.

The stats don’t lie.

SAFF CUP 2005- Salman Sharida

Played 4- Won 2- Drawn 1- Lost 1 (Semi-final) conceded 1 goal in 4matches, AFC Challenge Cup 2006

Played 3- Won 1- Drawn 1- Lost 1

SAFF CUP 2008- Akhtar Mouhiudin

Played 3- Won 0- Draw 0- Lost 3 (knocked out in group stages after conceding 9goals and scoring 2)

AFC Challenge Cup Qlfrs 2008

Played 3- Won 2- Drawn 0- Lost 1 (7-1 humiliating defeat to Srilanka)

SAFF CUP 2009- George Kottan

Played 3- Won 1- Drawn 1- Lost 1 (Conceded 1 goal )

AFC Challenge Cup Qlfrs 2009

Played 3- Won 1- Drawn 2- Lost 0

(Only those events mentioned in which all 3 coaches managed Pakistan)

(Note: The writer is a guest writer who would like to stay anonymous. The comments are his view-point supported by him with stats and do not represent the view-point of FPDC in any way)