Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
Saturday, 5 November 2011
KARACHI: After hectic efforts, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has finally hired the services of a foreign coach who will supervise the national team during the SAFF Cup slated to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi from December 2-12.
Although PFF officials were tight-lipped, a well-placed source told ‘The News’ that a Serbian coach has already arrived and also inspected for a brief time the training session of the Pakistan team at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore on Friday evening.
“He arrived at around 12:00pm on Friday and is still in the FIFA Football house. He did not actively attend the training session of the team but only visited to the stadium to inspect the ground and other facilities,” a source said.
“He is in his middle age, stout and well-built and has an impressive personality,” the source said. “It is not yet known whether he will be given an accommodation in the FIFA Football House or somewhere else,” the source added.
“The deal has almost been done but I want to give you surprise by disclosing all the details about the foreigner during a press briefing tomorrow,” PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Friday.
He also refused to disclose even a single aspect of the terms and conditions of the contract but said efforts would be made to hire his services for a ‘long time’.
Sources said that the Serbian was on the priority list of the PFF from the day one because of his low demand and daring attitude as compared to the rest of the applicants, short-listed for the purpose.
With the arrival of the Serbian, Tariq Lutfi will vacate his seat for him and will not work with the foreigner. He had told this correspondent in an interview a few days ago that he has already informed the PFF that he would quit when foreign coach will arrive.
But it is confirmed that the support staff which was working with Lutfi will also serve with the foreign coach.
Currently, 20 players are undergoing training in Lahore for the SAFF Cup while nine other probables are engaged with the Pakistan Under-19 team in the AFC Championship qualifiers being held these days in Tehran.
Pakistan have been placed in a tough Group B in the SAFF Cup with former champions Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal. After Austrian George Kottan quit as Pakistan’s coach in February 2010, Pakistan brought in Akhtar Mohiuddin as head coach for the Asian Games. In the meantime, former English footballer Graham Roberts, now serving Nepal as coach, was also hired for a brief two-month stint who worked as a consultant with Akhtar during the Asian Games in China in November last year.
But after the expiry of his contract, the PFF did not keep him anymore due to financial problems. Soon after Akhtar was also removed by the PFF for the reasons best known to them, bringing in Lutfi on January 15, 2011 under whose supervision Pakistan featured in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, World Cup qualifiers, Olympic Qualifiers and the two-match home series against Palestine.