Lack of practice haunts WAPDA’s Asian assignment

Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: A team needs solid preparation ahead of any international assignment. And if that team has a training period of just eleven days — and that too in difficult conditions, expecting a good result from it would be an over-exaggeration.

The same fate befell Pakistan’s national champions WAPDA when they were kicked out of the AFC President’s Cup after they lost their last Group C match 0-1 against Turkmenistan’s Balkan FC at the Halchowk Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

WAPDA, who had started the campaign in bright fashion when they beat hosts Nepal Police Club 2-0 in their opening game, failed to continue in the same vein as they went down 3-0 to Chinese Taipei’s national champions Taiwan Power Company before losing to Balkan FC which resulted in their ouster from the third-tier continental club event.

Diwanov Nurgylynch scored the lone goal of the match in the 31st minute.

Balkan FC and Taiwan Power Company have made it through to the six-team final round after securing seven points each in the group.

WAPDA, who created history when they qualified for the semifinals in the 2009 edition of the AFC President’s Cup, have been performing well at domestic level only because of their coach Khalid Butt.

Khalid Butt, a former international player, who was not allowed by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to sit on his team’s bench during the last Premier League season because of his qualification problems, has been serving the department with honesty and he is the only coach in the national circuit who, if assigned the task of preparing the national team, has the capability to turn it into a fighting unit.

Questions will be asked as to why WAPDA failed to perform in the Kathmandu event. But those questions can only be valid if the coach and his charges were provided with all the basic facilities that are the pre-requisites for a team ahead of any event.

WAPDA trained for only eleven days ahead of the President’s Cup — a glaring reminder of how seriously the high-ups of the department took the Nepal event. Had they properly trained their team, it would certainly have produced better results.

Sports is no more a joke as the other nations come to the tournament properly prepared and equipped; making the chances of springing a surprise absolutely minimal.

To be a realistic, if the Pakistani clubs take the AFC President’s Cup only as a formality, progression into the next round would never be in their destiny.

The PFF should also have a hand in the preparation of the teams for such events. If a department has not given increment to its top coach for the last few years, how can one expect its team to return with glory on foreign soil?