PFF eyes World Cup Qualifiers [The News]

PFF eyes World Cup Qualifiers [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik on Tuesday said that the national senior football team’s camp will begin from February 15 in order to launch its preparation for a number of international events to be held this year, also including the World Cup Qualifiers.

“There are two to three major events for the men’s team in near future. The men’s camp will begin from February 15. In March the team will go for a three-nation tournament,” Haroon told reporters after the formal opening of the National Challenge Cup here at the KPT Stadium.

“In June there is a FIFA window and we want to host that here if we are able to get a stadium which will meet international standard. And this year we also have to feature in the World Cup Qualifiers.

And our whole plan which ladders up is to win at least one game of the qualifying round which we could not win in 74 years,” he said.

Haroon is also interested to have a skilled and complete coaching staff for handling elite teams.

“The Technical Director is not the only necessity but complete coaching staff is also a necessity. In Pakistan goalkeeping level-2 coaches don’t exist and we have only one Pro License coach. We are facing several issues,” Haroon said.

“We are coordinating with the AFC for the hiring of coaches. The issue is that bank accounts are frozen because of the court cases. If these accounts are released Pakistan football will develop quickly.

As far as foreign coach is concerned so its natural that if we are to bring in another pro-license coach we will have to bring it from abroad,” he said.

“There is a programme of the AFC and if we are able to hire foreign coach through that process so payment to him will be done directly through AFC and we will have to coordinate with the AFC,” Haroon said.

He said the joint delegation of FIFA and AFC has returned while fully satisfied.

“The joint delegation of FIFA and AFC have returned while highly satisfied. They said that whatever NC is doing they fully back it. There is a clear mandate of FIFA and AFC to hold free and fair elections and our football stakeholders say about statutes. Everyone is satisfied.

The job is not easy but its good that football is running again,” he said.

Haroon was very happy over the revival of National Challenge Cup which began in seven centres of the country on Tuesday after two long years.

“I think Pakistan football community has shown a lot of patience. In reality players and officials have suffered the most. And I am really happy that today we see football and departments are playing which have a long history and tradition. Its not only a new beginning but an improved and organised playing structure.

“We invited all departments for National Challenge Cup who used to play but its unfortunate that K-Electric and PIA have disbanded their teams. There are others who are not playing due to legal issues. This is because we have not played football for years. And I hope when football will begin again we will again see those departments rejoining the fold who have disbanded their teams due to hopelessness,” the NC chairman said.

“As many as 31 departments showed their interest and 27 have registered their teams and these competitions have begun at seven different centres,” Haroon was quick to add.

“I don’t know who are protesting. If they have reservations they should come and talk to us and we will solve their problems. The job of football is to unite the world,” said Haroon when he was told about some people protesting outside the venue.

Asked about a few foreign-based women footballers passports issue which denied them the chance to feature in the four-nation event in Dammam, Haroon said: “This is FIFA regulation that players play with passports.

They had already applied for that. Effort was made to expedite the process and until the last day we hoped that passports would come. We filed a request and those whose passports had not come we took them with us in the team and the top priority was that Pakistan should win.

Had they got their passports even one match before I think we could have won the event. But still we are in touch with the government so that it could issue passports as soon as possible so that our players could feature in the coming events,” he said.

“All our positions were well-covered and that is why we stood second in the tournament.

These were impact players and much difference could have been created with them but inshaAllah I am hopeful for the future as passports will be issued,” Haroon said.

Published in The News, 25 January 2023