PFF intensifies search for foreign coach

Alam Zeb Safi [THE NEWS]
Monday, October 31, 2011
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has stepped up its efforts to rope in a foreign coach ahead of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship pencilled in for December 2-12 in New Delhi.

‘The News’ learnt here through sources that the PFF is likely to enter into a deal with a foreigner in few days. Although PFF officials did not confirm it, well-placed sources said that a Serbian or a Bulgarian will soon be landing in the Punjab capital for an interview.

But a top PFF official, however, denied any such development.

“We have not yet decided who will be called for an interview but we are striving to negotiate with a few foreigners,” the official said.

The negotiation is also in progress with a Brazilian and efforts are being made to convince him to bring down his demand.

“Personally, I like the Brazilian who has applied for the job but his demand is too high. We have written to him if he could be flexible and are waiting for his reply,” another PFF official said.

But this correspondent noted after a few days of correspondence with the authorities that they are more than eager to hire the services of a foreigner as soon as possible who will be given the responsibility not only to look after the senior team but also to work on the juniors.

“We will look, if a coach is rated high, then definitely he could be given incentives according to his calibre. He will also have to work on the youth,” the official said.

After Bahraini coach Salman Ahmad Sharida quit his job following the Asian Games in December 2006, Pakistan had to depend on home-grown coaches until February 2009 when Austrian coach George Kottan was brought in. Kottan, who is now working with the Asian football body (AFC) as Director Future Coaches Programme, was relieved after completing his one-year contract with the PFF in February 2010.

Kottan had brought a marked improvement in the techniques of national players but under his supervision the team failed to achieve much on international circuit.

Then the PFF opted to hire the services of former English footballer Graham Roberts for a brief two-month period as a consultant through London-based sponsors. But soon after the Asian Games he also exited when the PFF could not offer him a fresh deal.

Since January 15 this year Tariq Lutfi has been serving as head coach and under his supervision Pakistan featured in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, Olympic Qualifiers, World Cup Qualifiers and a two-match home series against Palestine.

The PFF has already received fifty percent of the Rs20 million grant approved by the government and it looks evident that they would be able to make a deal with a foreigner.

Meanwhile, a PFF official said that no foreign applicant has shown any security concerns.

“It looks good that so far no foreign coach has shown security fears about working in Pakistan,” he said.

The timing of bringing a foreign coach seems awkward as the team kick-started its preparations for the SAFF Cup in Lahore on Sunday. Moreover, experts said that bringing a foreign coach at this stage will not serve any purpose as Pakistan have no important commitment both at youth and senior level in the next couple of years.