by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan football faces severe challenges. In the last three years, national teams have not played in any international event because of the conflict between Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and its rival group. Due to a recent decision of the apex court, eventually, domestic football has been resumed and the 24-outfit National Challenge Cup is in progress here.
Pakistan has ahead two international events later this summer. The first assignment is to feature in the Asian Games pencilled in for August 18 to September 2 in Indonesia. It will be immediately followed by the SAFF Cup in Bangladesh in early September.
In the Asian Games, an under-23 team with only four senior players is allowed to be fielded, while the full senior side can be fielded in the SAFF Championship, the region’s most important event which Pakistan is yet to win. Forming these teams in a short time seems to be a bigger challenge for the newly-hired Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira who arrived here a few days ago.
And Jose admits it. “Yes, it’s a big challenge. But it’s possible,” Jose told ‘The News’ in an interview.
The Brazilian has been witnessing the Challenge Cup matches and is being assisted by the Technical Study Group (TSG) headed by the country’s most experienced coach Siddique Sheikh.
Jose is keenly observing the players and wants some time to know about their philosophy and the PFF.
“I have just arrived and need some time to know the philosophy of the players and the PFF. I am thinking about making ample recovery to the damage which football has received during the last three years,” said Jose, who has also coached clubs in Japan and Al-Ahli club of Saudi Arabia.
“Look, it’s easy for the younger players to recover but difficult for the seniors. If senior players don’t train for one day, they will need a three-day training for recovery. We will do what is important,” he said.
However, he was quick to add that he would be able to form a solid pool of both seniors and juniors for the national duty.
Jose intends to pick the fittest of players. “I would look for the fittest players and those who are good performers,” the coach said.
Responding to a question, Jose said he would get the best points out of the football culture of Pakistan in the formation of his brigade. “There are different styles of football here. In the past few years, Pakistan utilized the services of three foreign coaches who were from different backgrounds and cultivated different playing styles. I cannot destroy them all. We will extract good things,” he said.
“But let me try to understand and receive information first, and then I will be in a good position to decide,” the coach said.
He also advocated the idea of Pakistan’s exchange programmes with foreign nations.
To a query he said that he would also need a foreign tour for his team ahead of the Asian Games and SAFF Cup. “We need a good camp and strong opponents. It would be a long process and we will be part of it. And through our coordinated efforts, we will try to put the country’s football back on track,” Jose added.
He said he was here not only to train the national team but also to work with the coaches.
Jose’s father Nogueira has also served as the coach of Al-Hilal club of Saudi Arabia in 1980s.
To a question, Jose said it was possible for him to arrange some matches for Pakistan team with Al-Ahli club of Saudi Arabia. “It’s possible,” he said.
He is yet to meet with the PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat and secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi. “After meeting with them, we will make a solid plan for the future,” Jose said.