Commitment the Coaches never saw

From our Correspondent

Over the last 9 months Pakistan National team coaches have dropped many players citing they lacked ‘commitment’, these have been domestic players as well as some from abroad. While domestic players say they fall victim to favouritism it seems like personality clashes in terms of overseas players.

As Pakistan trained for the ‘Clash of the Titans’ series which was supposed to take place in UK, the word ‘commitment’ surfaced again. It was used in relation to Irfan Khan who had been called by PFF and included in the provisional squad. A national newspaper had quoted the head coach of questioning the commitment of Irfan after just one training session, rather than explaining his statement the coaching staff turned onto the player accusing him of providing the information to the paper while distancing themselves from the remarks. Irfan had never spoken to the journalist who had quoted the coach, and the head coach Mr Lutfi rather than blaming the player should have taken the journalist to task if the information was incorrect and he had been falsely quoted.

However cancellation of the series meant the squad was never made public and any possible questions regarding selection went under the carpet. But it is important to highlight the commitment players showed during the camp while observing Ramadhan in the hot conditions of Lahore.

Apart from Irfan Khan, Yousuf Butt was another player whom the coaches labeled as ‘uncommitted’. PFF senior management had recalled Yousuf for the UK Tour knowing he would be better suited to the conditions. Yousuf who was gearing up a move to Danish 2nd Division newcomers Fremad Amagar when the games were announced had to suffer a setback when the club refused his request to go on 2week leave to represent Pakistan. He was offered a healthy financial package and club showing ambition to try and gain promotion to the 1st Division, however Yousuf chose Pakistan first and declined Fremad Amagar. He was to settle for a much smaller club, BK Glodstrup Albertsund, taking a 50% drop in his wages, favorite for relegation, only so he could represent Pakistan. If he hasn’t demonstrated commitment to Pakistan then what will?


Also there was Hassan Bashir, who was left bitterly disappointed on the cancellation of the series because he had made it to Pakistan to train with the team and prove himself. Prior to leaving for Pakistan, Hassan had been in talks with a Danish 1st Division team which had similar conditions to what Yousuf had experienced. He opted to sign for Svebolle in the 2nd Division in order to be available for Pakistan. But now with no games against India, the players are left with smaller clubs and low incomes for the rest of the season, something they decided to do for their country.

Shabir Khan was another player making extra effort to be available for the games. Shabir had been out of football with an injury since August 2010 and had never played under Tariq Lutfi for Pakistan. He took matters into his own hands when he was told it would take few more weeks at Worcester to get into the first team. Shabir dropped 2leagues lower on a month long loan and got 2matches under his belt in order to gain match practice and sharpness before hearing the news about the match being called off. It must be appreciated by the fans and the coaches that we have players with such character and personality who are willing to wear the green shirt at all cost.

Shabir Khan in SAFF Cup 2009 vs Bangladesh

Although the Ind-Pak match was on an official FIFA Match day, these players do not play in the Premier Divisions of their respective countries to enjoy the International break. Hence having the club vs country issues which lead to many players choosing country over club which was a very encouraging sign for Pakistani football. So its time for the coaches and officials to stop hiding behind the smoke screen and take responsibility as well as formulating a strategy to bring the best out of the players rather than discouraging them.