‘Foreign-based players should have joined earlier’

coach Zavisa with assistant Nasir Ismail and physio Kamran Mehdi

KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s former assistant coach Nasir Ismail has said that the foreign-based players’ late joining of the national football team could create problem in coordination during the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in Kyrgyzstan from March 17 to 21.

“I think the foreign-based players should have joined the team at least 15 days ahead of the qualifiers,” Nasir told ‘The News’ in an interview here on Thursday.

“Mohammad Ali and Adnan Ahmed have joined the team. Yousuf Butt and Yaqoob Butt will join today, while Hasan Bashir will join in Bishkek which is strange,” Nasir said.

“How could a coach form a good combination when his key players are not with him during training?” Nasir said. “I have also worked as assistant coach even with Zavisa Milosavljevic and I don’t say that foreign-based stuff should not be included in the team but I must say that these players should give proper time to the national team,” said Nasir, also a License A coach.

“If they are unable to give time to the team then the authorities should concentrate on home-grown lot on which different institutions are spending huge money,” said Nasir, who also served as coach of Pakistan Under-13 and Under-14 teams in the AFC festivals in 2007 and 2008.

Nasir said that instead of Dubai the authorities should have sent the boys to Uzbekistan where the team could train in an environment having similarity with Kyrgyzstan.

“The PFF chief has good relations with Uzbekistan football authorities and the team could have been easily sent there,” he observed.

He said that the weather condition in Bishkek would also affect the home-grown players. “Although the chilly weather during the qualifiers will not have any impact on the foreign-based stuff it will definitely affect the home-gown players and if the management has not got necessary equipment for the purpose then they could face anxious moments,” Nasir elaborated.

Nasir, who coaches National Bank team in the Premier League, said the qualifiers would be the final test for the Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic. “Zavisa’s only success has come recently when the national team won the series against Nepal. Apart from that he has failed to impress as a coach during the last one year,” said Nasir.

He said reports that Bahraini coach Salman Sharida might replace Zavisa if the team failed to click in the qualifiers had mounted pressure on the Serbian. “If the side clicked, it would be great news for Pakistan. Otherwise Zavisa may face action,” Nasir said.

He said the PFF provided everything to the team. “They provided so many tours to the team during the last few months to prepare for the qualifiers. I don’t remember if in the past the PFF ever gave so much exposure to the team ahead of any competition,” Nasir added.

He said Kaleemullah should be tested in the frontline. “It’s strange that a player who loves to play in the frontline is placed in the midfield. Kaleem, who has been the top scorer of the Premier League, should be tested upfront and if he fails to deliver he could be sent back to his previous place,” Nasir suggested.

Nasir said the frontline would have to convert chances in Kyrgyzstan. “Frontline is our weakness and when the strikers miss chances it mounts pressure on the defenders,” said the coach.

He said that the electronic media was not giving any coverage to the national team appearing in the qualifiers. “Although print media gives importance to football, you will not see any television channel giving coverage to the national team. You will see experts commenting on the Azlan Shah Cup, but you will not see any programme being done on the Pakistan football team preparations for the qualifiers which is a big competition,” said Nasir.

Pakistan team will move to Bishkek on Friday night (today) to feature in the qualifiers of Group B also carrying Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Macau.

From: The News