‘Youngsters show us the way’: NBP coach Nasir Ismail

NBP’s ascent to the top-two has been made possible by the induction of youth from the U16 side, according to the team manager.

KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is enjoying its best run in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) for a decade, sitting second in the league and fighting for a top-three finish.

The good results this season – NBP have won seven of the 15 matches while losing just one – are down to the hard work put in by the under-16 players, according to team captain and former national player Hafeez. NBP finished eighth last season but have already shown considerable improvement as they sit just behind KRL.

Instead of buying players from outside, manager Syed Nasir Ismail opted to promote the youngsters to the senior squad and, according to him, while the seniors were exhausted from years spent on the field, the youngsters injected a wave of new belief and also brought fresh legs.

“I trust these youngsters, they gel quickly and that’s something we were missing,” Ismail told The Express Tribune. “These players won the South Asian Under-16 Championship last year and we picked them straight away because they were good. Buying new players is a trickier process and I don’t think I would have gotten the same result.”

Meanwhile, Farooq Shah, who has scored five of NBP’s 15 goals this season, has singled out one of those youngsters, Adnan Nasir.

“Adnan is my anchor in the field now,” said Farooq. “We both score goals and we think alike. On the field, I forget that he is from the U16 side. Because of this, the competition in the team has increased and the seniors now need to keep up with the energy of these younger players.”

However, Ismail still feels that winning the league is a difficult task. He said that his team in aiming to finish in the top-three instead.

“We haven’t won a PPFL title so far but just because we are performing well right now, the trophy isn’t confirmed for us. We are keeping our hopes close to reality. But yes, since 1993, this has been the best season for the club.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2012