By Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation’s chief Faisal Saleh Hayat believes that PFF is on the right path to achieve its target of ‘Vision 2022’, a goal which has already been set by the federation under which it would like to see the national team in FIFA World Cup after eight years.
“Still there are eight years left and the way we are going I hope we stand with a good chance to achieve our target,” Faisal told ‘The News’ in an interview.
However, he was quick to add that football is a very competitive sport and hard labour and huge investment will be needed to reach to the desired target.
Faisal said that first of all they would have to come at the summit at the regional level.
“First of all we will have to come on top in South Asia. A couple of years ago our colts lifted the Under-16 SAFF Cup in Nepal and that shows that we have at our disposal a good stuff which we are trying to polish and groom them for future challenges,” said Faisal, also a renowned politician.
“Resources are always a big problem. We have a budget of around Rs 80 million and it is always in deficit and we are to overcome this problem by generating money through other means,” he said.
He said corporate sector would have to play its role.
“The corporate sector is not that developed in our country due to several reasons. We will have to develop the said culture. The contribution of the government is also required. What can you do with an annual budget of only Rs 1.5 million or so?” he pointed out.
He also looked satisfied with the decision of Pakistan coach Mohammed Shamlan to focus on the home-grown players.
“Shamlan is focusing on home-grown players and I think it is very important. The skills of the local and foreign-based players also don’t match and that also creates a lot of problem. So it’s very important for our future to concentrate on our home-grown players,” Faisal remarked.
He was also happy with the way Pakistan team extended tough resistance to Jordon.
“You know, Jordon are a 64th ranked team and our side just lost to them 1-0 in Palestine recently. It’s a positive sign and it makes us optimistic,” Faisal pointed out.
“On the tour Shamlan was stopped by Israel in Jordon and it gave an opportunity to his support staff to prove how they handle the team and how they take the pressure and these are the experiences which our own coaches direly need to pass through,” he said.
Faisal said that they would have to improve international exposure of the national team.
“Other teams play matches on all FIFA days but we always struggle for funds as we need Rs7 to 8 million for a single tour,” he said.
“Our team will play a series against India after nine years most probably in August. And then a tour to Bahrain may be arranged. We are also in contact with Malaysia and Singapore for the purpose,” Faisal revealed.
He also looked determined to improve the league structure.
“We have reduced the number of teams from 16 to 12. Last year, the Premier League budget was Rs15 million and if we give a 15 per cent increase, it will benefit the mainstream teams,” he said.
“Our mission is to make the league semi-professional and every player will have a proper contract. We have also asked the departments that they should hire foreign players,” Faisal said.
He said Korea would also help Pakistan in key areas which would help develop the sport in the country.
He also disclosed that they would also be sending Pakistan Under-12 team to Iran for a festival which they were going to organise in the next three to four months.
While giving the example of Kaleemullah and Mohammad Aadil, who are playing in Kyrgyzstan’s league, Faisal said soon the country’s several other players would be seen in the leagues of other countries.