Football infrastructure needs a boost, says Zavisa

KARACHI: Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic said on Tuesday that Pakistan would have to work hard if they wanted to improve their standard in football.

“I am not comparing Pakistan with any European country, but at least they will have to improve their standard in the South Asian region where other countries are progressing with high pace,” the Serbian told ‘The News’ in an informal chat here at the People’s Sports Complex where he was watching the National Football Challenge Cup match between National Bank and Police.

Zavisa is here to witness matches of the National Challenge Cup to pick players for Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers to be held in June-July at a venue that has yet to be decided. Pakistan have been placed in Group B with Saudi Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka in the qualifiers.

When Zavisa went from KPT Stadium to the People’s Sports Complex, the venue was wearing a deserted look which disappointed the coach. The seats of the spectators were filled with dust and the pitch also looked in a bad shape with muddy patches. There was no one to water the ground.

“It’s not in good shape. Can we compare it with the pitches of Iran? Pakistan has the facilities but I think there is no one who could maintain them,” Zavisa said. “If you don’t have any proper football ground, how you would be able to prepare your national team,” he pointed out.

“The pitches should be soft and even. I saw a couple of pitches here which are too hard and uneven and not suitable to play on,” added Zavisa. “There is every facility, including watering system, at the Punjab Stadium but there is no one to water the ground and maintain other things. The playing facilities should be properly maintained,” he stressed.

He was impressed by the Pakistan Under-19 team. “The Under-19 team is too good. But Under-16 team should not have been put in the domestic event,” said Zavisa, who will stay here till the end of the Challenge Cup.

He said that he plans to go to England and Denmark to pick Under-22 players for the Asian Cup Qualifiers. “Apart from England and Denmark, Norway has also some players of Pakistani origin. In France, too, certain players have shown their willingness to play for Pakistan and some of them also want to come here with the documents next month,” he said.