Lutfi to use Olympic team against Palestine

By Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: Pakistan will go with the same football team against Palestine in two international friendly games early next month which had lost their away leg of the Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on February 23.

“Palestine is a very good team but I plan to go with the same Olympic team in order to make it ready for the second leg of the Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia on March 9 at Lahore,” Pakistan head coach Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ in an interview on Friday after the return the team from Kuala Lumpur where it tasted 0-2 defeat at the hands of Malaysia.

Palestine will land in Lahore in the wee hours of Sunday (tomorrow) to play two matches against Pakistan scheduled to be held at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore on March 1 at 7:00pm and here at the Peoples Sports Complex on March 4 at 4:00pm.

“It’s a very crucial series for us and I believe that our young guns will learn a lot from it ahead of the vital showdown against Malaysia,” Lutfi said.

While defending Pakistan’s 0-2 loss at the hands of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur the other day, Lutfi said that the performance of the team was not bad.

“The crowd really lifted Malaysian team with their enormous support and our players came under pressure in the initial 15 to 20 minutes. Then we were reduced to ten men in the end of the first half when we were 0-2 down. But in the second half our boys extended wonderful performance and did not conceded any goal,” the coach said.

The coach was not happy with the non-committal approach of Denmark-based goalie Yousuf Butt and threw weight behind acrobatic KESC gloveman Mohammad Omar after his fantastic show in the second half against Malaysia.

“No doubt Yousuf is technically sound but if one is not going to be fully committed then it affects one’s performance. If he really wants to grow he will show a sort of commitment and spirit which needs for an international match. We changed Yousuf, bringing Mohammad Omar in the second half and he was really impressive on international debut.”