Suffering Pak football needs unity to progress: Saddam [The Nation]

Suffering Pak football needs unity to progress: Saddam [The Nation]

by Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan football team captain Saddam Hussain has requested both Makhdoom Syed Faisal Salah Hayat and Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah to ease pressure on the players and let them focus on playing football and help Pakistan national team qualify for the World Cup.

In an interview with The Nation, 26-year-old Saddam said: “I don’t know why a few certain journalists just for ratings put national interests behind and want players to get involved in controversies. We are footballers not politicians. I request all media persons, if they want me or any other players to speak, they must write and show, which is in the best interest of football and country. Being a Pakistani, I would love to play and give my 100 percent.”

He said he had represented Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) in Pakistan Premier League and also played for Kyrgyz Club FC Dordoi Bishkek and Khan Research Laboratories. “My job is to play football and I am least bothered about politics in football. I am bound to follow the country’s rules and regulations. I know after Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling, PFF elections were held and Syed Ashfaq Hussian Shah was elected PFF president.

“I know FIFA and AFC recognise Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat. I don’t know whether I would be part of the national team or not, as I had heard that Makhdoom is finalising a squad mainly based on players playing and residing abroad, but I don’t care and I don’t have time to waste on these irrelevant things.

“As per rules of the land, we have to follow government directives and department players have to attend the national camp established at Pakistan Sports Complex as per government directives. I am also playing in international leagues and a few other players also have international contracts. We just know one thing that Pakistan always comes first and I expect this from others as well,” he added.

Saddam said: “People don’t have any idea how important World Cup qualifiers are and only a few days are left. It takes a lot of days to complete visa formalities and prepare national team, as getting visas of 30 persons, flights, boarding and other things require time. I don’t know whether PFF has submitted players’ list for qualification round or not. We have now done three sessions of training, which is going on very well under the supervision of senior coach Tariq Lutfi.

“But trust me being a captain, I am under great pressure and I want to focus on playing football instead of taking unwanted pressure. We have nothing to do with internal or external politics in football. We all must think for Pakistan and use all our energies for taking Pakistan football forward. The game in has already suffered baldy and we will continue to suffer, until we shun our differences and unite under one flag.”

Pakistan football captain said: “I don’t know which player has joined the camp or not. It is manager’s responsibility while my job is to prepare and train for the mega event. Less than a month has left and we don’t know whether we would be able to represent Pakistan team in qualifiers or not.

“My question here is why players are suffering, why players decide, who is right or wrong. We are not judges rather we are players so let us play. In the war of power, only players are suffering. I am tired and frustrated. I don’t want to create rifts and involve myself in politics. Football is a beautiful game and it must be politics free. We want more and more football activities so that this game may flourish in our country,” Saddam concluded.

Published in The Nation, 10 May 2019