‘Foreign-based players must join camp early’

Pakistan U23 team coach Akhtar Mohiuddin

KARACHI: Former Pakistan football coach Akhtar Mohiuddin has said that foreign-based players should be bound to attend the national team camp for a month before the kick-off of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in March.

“I think the foreign-based footballers must join the camp at least one month ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers as it would not only help them achieve top fitness, but would also help the coach prepare a solid plan,” Akhtar told ‘The News’ here in an informal chat on Sunday, 20 January 2013.

He said that the team would need a complex training for the challenging assignment. “The team will need a complex training, covering technical, tactical, physical and mental sides and only then will the team be in a position to make its presence felt there,” said Akhtar under whose coaching Pakistan had held former Asian champions Iraq to a goalless draw in their away leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in 2007.

Pakistan have been placed in Group B in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers, with former champions Tajikistan, hosts Kyrgyzstan and Macao. One outfit from the pool will advance to the main round.

Akhtar said that it would be much better if the coach worked on 4-2-3-1 formation. “It’s the most difficult, but productive formation. I experimented with it as a coach in 2007 and if the team is prepared on it, it will produce better results,” Akhtar pointed out.

Akhtar said that the players of Central Asia were not only physically strong, but they also had good techniques. “Tajikistan are a tough side and being the hosts, Kyrgyzstan may create problems for Pakistan,” he said.

He also stressed that the team would need international exposure. “I think the team will at least need four international matches ahead of the qualifiers,” he added.

He said Pakistan team also needed a trainer and a psychologist. “If it is possible then a specialised trainer is needed for the team and also a psychologist,” said Akhtar. He also called for boosting the support staff.

“There should be at least four people in the support staff of the head coach and if there is a specialised manager he will relieve the other staff of extra burden and they will solely focus on their actual job,” Akhtar suggested.

Pakistan team will start preparation for the Kyrgyzstan qualifiers near the end of this month under Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic.

The Group B matches are scheduled for March 17, 19 and 21 in Kyrgyzstan.

As many as 20 nations of the continent have been placed in five groups of four teams each, who will play against each other in a single round league system.

The four group winners and two best second-paced teams will join hosts Maldives at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup finals.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]