Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s outgoing Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavlejvic said on Thursday that he was expecting to go to Nepal as head coach of the national side but it was unfortunate that the authorities removed him at a crucial time.
“I was really hopeful that Pakistan will play the final in the SAFF Cup. And now after my exit I cannot comment on the chances of Pakistan in the major tournament of the region,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ in an interview after returning from Kabul on Thursday where his team was trounced 3-0 by Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) removed Zavisa and goalkeeping coach Aslam Khan at a time when SAFF Cup is about to start at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu.
He said he did his best to put Pakistan on the right path. “The team was on the path of improvement but I would say that a couple of years were not enough to produce desired results and that too without enough numbers of international matches,” the Serbian pointed out. “I always worked hard but for bringing marked improvement at least four years were required,” he said.
“If the PFF wants to improve its team it will have to provide it minimum 12 to 15 matches in a calendar year,” said Zavisa, who was released a couple of months before expiry of his two-year contract.
“Our senior team played just a single international game in a year and by doing so it’s always difficult to spring any surprise at international level which is more competitive.”
Defending his charges’ performance at Kabul, Zavisa said that he was not playing with full strength. “You know Afghanistan are a top-ranked team of the region and we were missing not only our key gloveman Jaffar Khan but the squad also did not have the support of our foreign-based brigade while Afghanistan were playing with their full squad at their home conditions,” Zavisa said.
Zavisa took charge of Pakistan team on November 5, 2011, replacing Tariq Lutfi. Under his coaching Pakistan failed to click in the 2011 SAFF Cup in India, Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia in June-July, 2012, and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan in March this year.
Zavisa, who seemed disturbed from his tone, said that he spent a very good time in Pakistan and his good wishes would always be with the Pakistan team.
He said there is great talent in Pakistan but without proper and long-term planning it would not be possible for the country to make improvement in the field.
Meanwhile, when this correspondent asked PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi if the time of sacking Zavisa was not appropriate, he said: “We gave Zavisa all the facilities and it was his duty to perform and we were expecting that he would have improved the team for the SAFF Cup but the way we lost to Afghanistan was pathetic and that is why we had to take the decision.”
The PFF also showed the exit door to goalkeeping coach Aslam Khan and the team will be playing in Kathmandu without a goalkeeping coach.