Zavisa to finalise team build-up plan

Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic, who is enjoying vacations at his hometown in Serbia these days, will finalise his plan regarding the team’s preparation and build-up with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) after his arrival in Lahore in the next few days.

The News has learnt that Zavisa, who was signed by the PFF as national coach for two years on November 5 last year, has submitted an ambitious preparatory plan to the PFF which according to the experts if implemented will help the country raise its game on international circuit.

“Yes, Zavisa has submitted his one-year plan to the PFF and we will discuss it with him when he arrives from Serbia in the middle of this month,” a top official of the PFF told The News on Monday. “The coach has sought more international exposure and quality training for the team both at home and abroad in order to instill qualities in the players that are necessary for playing at the international level,” the official said. “Although the plan is ambitious, efforts will be made to implement it keeping in view our resources.”

He said the coach has also advised the PFF that in order to build a strong Under-22 team, he would need a training camp on foreign soil. “We will try our level best to contact certain countries where the camp could be held for a few days,” the official revealed.

Sources said that such a camp would be held in Thailand in February for which around 25 players, both juniors and seniors, would be picked. But the PFF official did not confirm it and said the destination is yet to be finalised.
“We will contact certain countries and hopefully will be able to make a deal with any one whether it is Thailand or any other country,” the PFF official said. Pakistan will participate in the Under-22 Asian Championship Qualifiers in June-July at a venue yet to be decided.

This is the first time that the Asian Championship for this age group will be held. The AFC took the decision to introduce the competition in its calendar in a bid to give more exposure to the youth.

The Asian Championship Qualifiers will also help Pakistan to prepare better for the South Asian Games to be hosted by India most probably at the end of this year. India were supposed to hold the event in March-April this year, but they are yet to take any step in this regard and most probably they will have it deferred for the time being because of their preparations for London Olympics to be held in August.
Sources said that Zavisa would also keep a bunch of senior players in the Under-22 lot as a part of his plan to prepare them for the next year’s AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers.

Sources said that the PFF would also try to invite foreign countries to play with Pakistan at their backyard as an effort to boost the soft image of Pakistan which has been damaged by the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009. Sources said that Zavisa, who supervised Pakistan team during the SAFF Cup held in New Delhi in December last year, shortlisted players, both seniors and juniors, during the last phase of the Premier League.

After his return, Zavisa will hold ten to 15 days’ camp after finalising the plan with the PFF and then efforts will be made to send the team abroad for training. ‘The News’ has learnt that Thailand is ready to tour Pakistan provided the Greenshirts first visit Bangkok.