By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
FootballPakistan caught up with KRL and Pakistan star Kamran Khan recently, quizzing the talented defender on various aspects of his time with the Green Shirts and the Pakistan Premier League.
Until recently, Pakistan’s constant struggles on the International arena were noted quite plainly, but the tour to Nepal and Maldives not only brought back two wins and a fruitful draw, but also helped the side take their rankings from 189 to 170, becoming one of the biggest movers in the FIFA Rankings during the process.
And clearly, Kamran was relishing International game time after waiting on the sidelines since the last game against Singapore in November.
“MashaAllah, the tour was good and we managed to improve our ranking as you can see,” he said while exclusively speaking to FPDC.
With friendlies becoming the need of the hour, there have been calls for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to arrange local games in the country, although security issues have prevented that until now.
Nonetheless, Kamran believes that’s just a justification of the Federation’s incompetence and the PFF should turn to friendly neighbours if they are indeed committed to arranging games at home.
“If teams are not coming into our country, then it’s not good enough excuse. There are other countries as well, so you have to make sure some sacrifices. If no one comes, we can play against nations like Iran,” he added.
Popularity is something which will surely be boosted by home ties, but the allure of a local lucrative league is what Pakistan really needs and according to the tough-tackling centre-back, the Geo SFL played a similar role back in 2010.
“When I played in the Geo Super League, people started recognizing me. On the streets they would say ‘We saw you on T.V’ and whatnot. That really helped us improve our image as footballers.”
Although the recent games finally gave some much needed exposure to the senior team, Kamran cited exhaustion as the primary reason why they struggled against Maldives in their last game and were eventually trounced by the likes of Ali Ashfaq.
“The biggest problem was scheduling. We were fatigued and we didn’t get good accommodation. I struggled during the game and wanted to get off. It would definitely never have been 3-0 had we been fresh,” Khan continued.
The KRL stalwart added that Zavisa Milosavljević should be given more time to continue his good work, while also calling for more International fixtures so that the senior team can further improve their rankings.
“The coach should be given time. And now you can see Zavisa has managed to set his team. I am also in favour of having extended tours, so that the team can bond together both on and off the field,” added Kamran after being notified of the exact reason why foreign players cannot come for month long camps.
Pakistan’s Premier League is virtually a routine exercise now, with little competition or professionalism to show the PFF’s efforts. And Kamran agreed with FPDC’s notion that a new League should be introduced along modern lines, so that the local standard can be brought upto the mark.
“The League must be improved surely. It’s our biggest competition and we don’t even have any spectators. World football is progressing because they play private clubs, we have a departmental mentality and instead of going forward we are moving backwards!” reiterated the stopper while talking to FPDC.
Considering the domestic scene, Kamran was set for a stint in the Nepali League like Naveed Akram and Mehmood Ali before him, however scheduling issues ultimately thwarted his departure, a far cry from the glamour of the I-League, where top players are earning big bucks.
“I was bent on going to Nepal and playing for one of the clubs there, but unfortunately the Premier League’s schedule prohibited me from going. My friend, Syed Rahim Nabi of the Indian National Team, told me that he signed a deal worth 5,000,000 per season and yet we are struggling here to make a a few thousands per month. Without competent salaries, how can professional footballers scrape a good living here?”
Nonetheless, Khan was optimistic about Pakistan’s chances in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers next month and claimed that qualification was within the team’s reach.
“We are hoping for the best next month and considering that several foreign-players like Adnan, Hassan and Zesh will be returning, we will Insha’Allah try our best to qualify.”
FootballPakistan would like to extend their heart-felt loss at the demise of Kamran’s Grandmother and pray for the soul of the deceased.