My players aren’t leaving the club, says PIA manager

PIA vs HBL – Pic by Athar Khan (EXPRESS)

KARACHI: PIA manager Shamim Khan has reacted strongly to the speculation linking his players to other clubs in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL), insisting that they were his biggest strength and no rival can prise them away from the club.

Despite PIA’s poor form in the league, with just three wins out of ten matches, Shamim is adamant his players will not be enticed by big-money offers from clubs like KESC, who are reportedly offering contracts worth Rs60,000 to attracts new players to their club. Shamim labelled his key striker Shakir Lashari’s absence as the biggest factor in the club’s rough start.

“Getting into the top-five is the goal,” Shamim told The Express Tribune. “My players are my strength and other clubs can’t break my men. There have been very tempting offers made to Lashari, Ali Adeem Shahzad and others but bad performances in one season will not bring us down.

“At the end, it is the team that matters. Each of us has a strong bond and I am sure things will change once Lashari makes his comeback against Wapda.”

Lashari, who picked up the injury in the second match of the league against KPT, said that his aim is to solve the team’s scoring problems once he returns. PIA have only scored seven goals in 10 matches, Mohammad Ishtiaq has two to his name and is the club’s highest scorer.

“I know as a key scorer, I have the responsibility to at least score one goal in each match and avail all opportunities,” said Lashari. “Sitting on the bench and watching us draw five matches in the first phase of the league was just painful.”

Talking about transfers, Shamim said that although PIA only offers two-year contracts worth Rs20,000 to the players, most of them get permanent jobs at the department which helps them retain them at the club.

“The reason we picked up players from B Division teams like SSGC was that we didn’t have enough funds. However, we are looking to get at least six transfers next season. Our goal is to achieve consistency now.

“We finished sixth last season and although our fortunes will take time to turn, I believe we can compete for the title next year to break the 15-year title drought of the club,” said Shamim.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.