PFF President sees off Pak team for Thai tour, Malaysia qualifiers

Go extra mile to achieve the target. You must take the steps to rectify weaknesses: Faisal

Lahore, 6 February: “Go extra mile to achieve the target. If Pakistan can outpace India in overall soccer gold medal tally of South Asian Games and Pakistan turned the tide in sensational way in both legs against Singapore in same Olympics Qualifiers four years ago, why not the present team. There is a psychological factor in the Thailand-bound team. I hope team coaching staff will try all out 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 their mental make-up,” this is stated by Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat (MNA) on the eve of Pakistan’s Tour to Thailand while talking to officials/players at FIFA Football House today.

Pakistan football team had left for Bangkok today night to undertake fifth visit of Thailand where they will play three warm up matches and U23 international friendly during two-week Camp from 7-20 February.

“The basic purpose of our tour to Thailand is to groom the players so that they could learn more things, could play on excellent pitches and in excellent environment. The more our players play there the more they will learn. It may be recalled that we won the SAG gold in Islamabad seven years ago after Thailand Training Tour.”

“The home-grown players are more enthusiastic now and have shown improvement after the arrival of  foreign-based players from Denmark, Spain and England. No one can deny the fact that having had a good base in terms of training and grooming, these foreigners are very disciplined and hard-working. They have the right temperament to play and they make fine team members.”

He also says ‘ bad luck” to Goal keepers Naiman Khan (Agrupacion Deportiva Pablo Iglesias Rivas, Madrid), Muzammil Hussain (WAPDA) and central defender Muhammad Haji (PIA) as injuries ruled them out of the coming events. Haji’s exit will be a great loss as he also played like a hero when Zahid Hameed-led Pakistan eliminated Singapore in previous edition. His injury at the juncture when we were finalizing the squad is a huge blow to team. Having been named MVP of Pakistan Premier League 2010, Haji is a experienced player expected to serve as the lynch-pin of deep defence. His absence from the Thailand-bound outfit will be felt greatly but as PFF President I couldn’t allow him to exert himself as big international assignments are full of PFF calendar 2011 and in order to keep his career in mind, it will be fine if he follows doctor’s advices,” he said.

“I you want to be a good player, it’s important that you are fully aware of your weaknesses through getting feedback from people around you and particular visit like that of Thailand. Next, you must take the steps to rectify these weaknesses. Getting honest feedback is part of the learning process in becoming a top footballer. I want you to sharpen this characteristic always,” added Faisal while hoping good display from Pakistan Youths who will appear in the 2012 Olympic Football Asian Qualifying Tournament after Thai campaign. Pakistan have been pitted against Malaysia with the first leg to be played in Kuala Lumpur on 23 Feb 2011 and the return leg in Pakistan, after two Test matches against Palestine, on 9 March 2011.

Faisal added that PFF is going all out to give international exposure to team at home and abroad and for that, 2011 will be fundamental to improve in terms of technique, tactics and football culture in the country. “ Since Olympic Qualifier lasts only for two-legged the result very much depends on many factors like our players’ physical condition and opponents’ condition and so on. In this time, I asked team coach Tariq Lutfi to bring those who are talented, know how to stay in field and who have a big will to improve themselves,” added Faisal.

Meanwhile, foreign golveman Yousuf Butt (Birkerød IF Skjold, Denmark) and midfielder Irfan Khan (Bradford Park Avenue Association Football Club) were eager to be part of the squad, claiming there is no shortage of talent in the country. “While they are citizens of various European countries, the players are eligible to wear colour of Pakistan because of their family heritage ” said Faisal Saleh Hayat who had approved  several expatriates from 2005 to 2010 for giving strength to Pakistan team in international arena.

Yousuf and Irfan insisted that the players needed to be motivated and groomed by giving them international exposure. “Players in the camp are very enthusiastic; We believe Thai journey is an important step up. If we compare the facilities here in PFF with other parts of the world, the difference is visible as PFF is working with sizeable budget, but we are impressed with the energy among the players despite the lack of facilities, they said. They also congratulated PFF Chief for getting AFC Executive Committee Member post recently at KL, adding to other posts of FIFA and World Disciplinary Committee member and Chairman AFC Disciplinary Committee.

Meanwhile, Lutfi added that said the whole team was extremely eager about forthcoming South East Asia excursion and will be turned out to be a memorable one indeed. The enthusiasm is very high in the Camp. The team left with a renewed fervor to not only perform well in the field but also stay committed to social and human development programs. “Since all players are young, born on or after 1 January 1989, it is natural that there is pressure on us for the coming assignment. But we have big motivation to improve, and to send a message from all players, we have to confirm that we are improving as the time ticks on. Obviously the expectation is always high against tough Malaysians. But my players should be good at dealing with such pressure because the pressure should give us energy to compete so we should not want this pressure to go away,” concluded Tariq.