Asian officials blast poor pitches in U14 Festival

KARACHI: Pakistan under-14 football coach Hasan Baloch has blasted the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for conducting a skill test in the middle of the tournament instead of taking it before the event started so that over-aged players could have been identified.

The skill test was conducted by the AFC Director Competitions John Whittle to assess the quality of players and the potential of under-14 talent in the participating teams — Pakistan, Pakistan A, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

“Our players were graded second next to Tajikistan,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. “I’m not really sad about that but I do believe that if this test was conducted before the event, teams like Afghanistan could have been stopped from fielding over-age players.”

Meanwhile, Baloch, who was also part of the skill test commission, said that the poor state of football pitches was something that was pointed out repeatedly and that it would affect the game of the under-14 players significantly.

“It is embarrassing because all the coaches from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as well as Whittle, pointed out that the fields were in bad condition. They don’t help budding players and also cause injuries. The AFC representative was really concerned about the state of the pitches and said that it was one of the reasons behind poor technique and lack of control among Pakistan players.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.