All is not well [TNS]

All is not well [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee seems to be in deep trouble. It has so far failed to handle various issues which is damaging for its overall image.

It also faces financial issues but it has kept a huge manpower in the PFF headquarters. When NC’s chairman Haroon Malik took charge he expressed his resolve that he would leave a very good administrative culture in the PFF but I don’t think he has done anything noteworthy. He has taken keen interest in giving exposure to the national senior team during the last one year but he has failed to do justice to the national under-23 team which is currently in Bahrain featuring in the 2024 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

NC delayed its camp which badly affected its preparations. The camp initially was held at Abbottabad for around 13 days and only the head coach was there to handle the brigade on a hard pitch. The players stayed at the sub-standard FIFA Football House where power outages and market noise created huge issues for the players.

Haroon did not keep any communication with head coach Shehzad Anwar during the Abbottabad camp which badly affected the team’s preparation.

It was almost after a week that NC sent goalkeeping coach Nouman Ibrahim to Abbottabad to assist Shehzad.

The under-23 team was also not given shoes which is quite surprising. The boys currently featuring in the Asian Cup Qualifiers in Bahrain are using their own shoes. Shoes are very expensive these days. A player purchased shoes worth Rs68,000 when the national team was in Mauritius for a four-nation event but those shoes also were badly impaired during the camp at Abbottabad which was held on a hard pitch.

Interestingly, the PFF NC did not even say goodbye to its under-23 team when it was leaving for Bahrain.

Another thing is when the team management was set to send tickets to the five overseas players, the NC stopped it and told it that only Abdullah Iqbal and Harun Hamid should be played and that the NC cannot give tickets to the other three. It really left a bad impression. If the NC did not have money it should have managed sponsors for backing the remaining three overseas players.

NC is only relying on FIFA’s funding.

The under-23 team on Wednesday night lost to Japan 6-0. Because of the bad treatment from the NC’s top brass the under-23 team players were unwilling to leave for Bahrain. They were extremely hurt by the situation. Had they boycotted Bahrain’s Qualifiers it would have created a huge issue for the NC.

Just a few days ago NC chairman Haroon Malik called the national under-16 team and told them that they were not going to feature in the SAFF Cup in Thimphu, Bhutan, due to an NOC issue. Some of the boys wept after hearing this bad news. However, the team’s sponsors Candyland managed NOC from the Ministry of Interior and made the colts participation in the SAFF Cup possible.

This was not the first time that the NC faced an NOC issue. A delayed NOC was issued for the national men’s team tours of Mauritius and India. It later failed to get an NOC in time for the national women’s team’s tour of Singapore.

Another big issue is that the NC is being accused of using its social media platform to put pressure on the government and I think this is strange if it is in fact the case. The NC should keep good relations with the Pakistan Sports Board and the Ministry of IPC if it is to handle various matters within time.

Another surprise is that the NC has issued a letter regarding trials for picking players for the national men’s senior team for the World Cup Qualifiers against Cambodia. The head coach is not aware of this step. What was the need of these trials? Why did you spend millions on your senior team for the last one year by giving it exposure? I think there is no need for further trials as time is too short and the players already given exposure should be utilised for the World Cup Qualifiers against Cambodia.

Cambodia is a good team and beating it will not be that easy.

Kenya had reportedly offered Pakistan to play with them in Doha in this month’s FIFA window but NC did not reply, according to my sources.

If you don’t give matches to your senior team ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers then how will you beat Cambodia?

The first leg of the Qualifiers will be held in Cambodia on October 12 with the second leg to be hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad on October 17.

I feel that a storm is brewing which may sink the NC in near future.

Published in The News on Sunday, 10 September 2023