By Gauhar Mahmood Azeem
Newly re-appointed Pakistan National Football Team Head Coach Tariq Lutfi dispelled all fears that Pakistani players playing abroad may have difficulty getting into his side.
Speaking to FPDC Chief Editor Ali Ahsan and Editor Gauhar Mahmood Azeem, Mr. Lutfi said that all selection will be on merit and all players are equal in his eyes as they are Pakistani boys. He said, ”Why wouldn’t I select a better player over someone else if he is better for the team I coach. But the players playing abroad should also realize that our domestic players are also good and if they want to get into the side they should focus on doing well in the camp. I want everyone to show me what they have. For me all are equal. Why wouldn’t players as good as Adnan, Atif Bashir, Zeshan get into the squad? But they have to be good enough and prove that. Similarly the best local players.”
He was hopeful that the squad will do well against Malaysia and in the near future under his guidance. ”Look at North Korea, playing in the world cup aren’t they? We should draw inspiration from them and put in our best efforts.”
He said that he has been a coach in Pakistan for almost 3 decades now and he’ll use his experience to train the squad in more than just physique and skill during the camp. ”There is a big psychological factor in the squad. I will try to bring a winning, aggressive mentality in the boys. One of the things I look for in a player is his overall determination, habits, and his mental make-up. Players like Arif of WAPDA have that thing, they train hard, they are motivated, they take care of themselves well.”
Talking about his success story with the Women’s National Team which recently reached the SAFF Women’s Football Championship Semi-Finals in Bangladesh, he said he is proud of the girls who have improved their game by leaps and bounds during the camp and made the nation proud. He said, ”When the girls started camp here they were not up to the mark. Poor in technique and skill. I told them to look at me as a father figure and that they need to improve a great deal. And they made me proud, they made the whole nation proud.”
He also sent a message to the FPDC team and the Pakistani Football fans. He said that he knows Malik Riaz Hai Naveed for 8 years now. He said that he and his team of young football enthusiasts are doing a great service for Pakistani football. ”You guys work for no return and put all efforts to see Pakistani Football succeed and Inshallah that day will come. I support your efforts and say well done. The Pakistani Football fans are the life of Pakistani Football and they are the ones who when going to stadiums in the thousands and appreciating players can give new power to us.”
The FPDC team wishes Mr. Lutfi the best for his tenure as the Head Coach of the Pakistani National Football Team.