KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) made a blunder by sending a suspended player with the national under-19 football team that recently featured in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship Qualifiers in Iraq.
Faisalabad-born striker Mohammad Zeeshan had been red-carded during the AFC Under-16 Championship Qualifiers in Kuwait in 2011 and was not eligible for three matches.
‘The News’ learnt that the AFC had intimated the PFF about Zeeshan’s suspension in 2011. It was the responsibility of the PFF not to send the player to Iraq with the final lot.
This correspondent learnt that after the managers’ meeting prior to the start of the Group C qualifiers at the Al-Hareeri Stadium in Arbil city in Iraq last week, Pakistan’s coach Nasir Ismail was informed by the technical officials that Zeeshan was not eligible to play for three matches.
As Pakistan had to play only three matches in the qualifiers, the outfit got short of a very good striker that affected the team’s performance.
When this correspondent asked the PFF Director Development and Competitions Pervez Saeed Mir he said that he could not comment on it at the moment and would do so after getting some details.
The PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi admitted the mistake. “I will say that not a right thing has been done,” Lodhi said.
The player was very talented and his registration was necessary but it was not necessary to send him with the squad, he said.
He was quick to add though that there should always be room for improvement. “There is room for improvement in certain areas and we know how to put it right. And you know we have been trying to bring improvement within our resources and recently we have given additional charge of Director Technical to national team’s head coach Mohamed Shamlan of Bahrain in a bid to make the area effective,” Lodhi said.
He called Zeeshan a future star and said he might have learnt much on the Iraq trip which would help him in future.
When asked if the coach was also responsible, Lodhi said: “The coaches also must know that.”
When head coach Nasir Ismail was contacted he said he was not responsible for what had happened.
“It was the responsibility of the PFF. They should have given me record on the first day of the camp about who was suspended and who was not and who should be put in registration,” said Nasir, a License A coach. “Had I been running the same team right from under-16 then it could have been my responsibility. Had Sajjad Mehmood and Hasan Baloch, who were coaches of the under-16 team in 2011, also been coaches of the under-19 team in my place now then they certainly could have been held responsible for the blunder,” Nasir elaborated.
He admitted that Zeeshan’s ineligibility created a great problem for him in Iraq. “Zeeshan’s absence mattered a lot in the qualifiers. He is an attacking and brave player,” Nasir conceded.
About Pakistan’s performance in the qualifiers, Nasir said he was disappointed by his frontline and goalkeeper Ihsanullah.
But he was quick to add that the playing style of his team had captivated every one, particularly coaches of other teams.
In the qualifiers Pakistan lost to Kuwait 3-1, went 3-0 down against Iraq before holding Bangladesh to a goalless draw in their last outing on October 12.