KARACHI: The Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) has stopped its football team from playing their remaining matches of the Pakistan Premier Football League. Team sources said the team would be disbanded.
Sources told ‘The News’ that Managing Director ZTBL Brig Anjum Saeed had informed the management in writing that the team would not play the remaining matches of the PPFL due to financial constraints. Having played 17 matches, they had 13 more games during the next one month. ZTBL were at the 14th spot with 17 points and fighting to avoid relegation.
Managing Director Anjum confirmed to this correspondent that the team had been stopped from playing their remaining matches, but rejected the view that he had planned to disband the team.
“Tell me what the position of our team is and what they have done in the league. I would not like to see my team finish at the rock bottom,” Anjum told this correspondent.
He said that he wanted to overhaul the team. “I am going to induct better players by March next year. There is no life in the current lot. In the first two phases they did not perform well and in the last phase I feel the matches will be tougher for them and they will not be able to improve. I am determined to start hunting and I know how to make a better side who could finish in the top four or five positions in future,” said Anjum.
He said he would like to see his football team perform like his cricket side. “I believe in performance and you know our cricket team recently won T20 Championship. I would like my football team to perform in the same way,” Anjum said.
When he was told that after forfeiting their remaining matches ZTBL would be relegated and it would be difficult for them to return to the top league, he said: “It does not matter. I would like to make the team stronger.”
Anjum did not reply when asked if he made the decision to pull the team out due to financial constraints.
ZTBL coach Najeebullah Najmi was shocked by the decision. “It’s really a shocking news for us,” Najmi said. “It is injustice with the players. We had a chance to bounce back as we had to play 13 more matches,” said Najmi.
ZTBL skipper Syed Ghazi Khan was also stunned by the development.
“It really shocked me when I was told that the team would not play the remaining matches,” said Ghazi.
“I think the sport is being murdered. We were not in that bad position in the league. We had mostly youngsters in the side. I joined the team because I thought that it was a young team and would improve within three to four years. And the boys were gradually improving but this development has disappointed me a lot,” said Ghazi, a defender.
ZTBL have not yet informed Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) about their decision. “We have not yet been informed by them about any such step,” PFF Director Competitions and Development Pervez Saeed Mir said.
Former PCB and ZTBL chief Zaka Ashraf formed this team in November 2010.
The team rose to the Premier League after winning the PFF League B Division in 2011. They survived in the 2012 Premier League and also earned fair-play trophy. It has 19 players with only one goalkeeper and out of them only Waqas (Kohat), Adnan (Karachi) and Izharullah (Chitral) are permanent employees.
Only two players, Syed Ghazi Khan and Hanif Khan, are drawing salaries of Rs20,000 per month while the rest are taking Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 per month.
Two players, Izharullah and Mohammad Sohail, recently attended the national team camp under Bahraini coach Mohammad Shamlan.