By Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Former Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi is expected to replace Akhtar Mohiuddin as the head coach for the national team which starts its preparation for the Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia on Saturday (today) at the Model Town Ground in Lahore.
Reliable sources told ‘The News’ that Tariq Lutfi, has reached Lahore and has been seen on Friday walking with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Director Grassroots and Youth Development Siddique Shaikh. Tariq, who recently took Pakistan’s women’s team to the semifinals of the First South Asian Football Championship in Dhaka, has also acted as manager with former Pakistan coach Salman Ahmed Sharida.
“It is 90 percent confirmed that Tariq Lutfi will be announced as head coach for the qualifiers,” a source close to Tariq told ‘The News’. “Tariq has a solid background as a coach and he also commands respect from the players and the PFF is committed to announce him as a coach,” the source said.
“Had the PFF wanted to retain Akhtar as a coach, he would have been announced much earlier,” another source in the PFF said.
Sources said that Tariq Lutfi is going to meet with the PFF president Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat on Saturday (today) and there is a great chance that he will be sent directly to the camp.
This is the first time in the football history of Pakistan that the announcement of the coach has been delayed to such an extent.
Akhtar Mohiuddin, who had acted as head coach of the Pakistan team during the Asian Games held in China last year, should have been an automatic choice. But Tariq, who is more experienced and is about to retire from his department PIA in the near future is expected to yield positive results.
Meanwhile, the PFF unveiled 46 probables for the camp for which the players have started approaching the Punjab capital. “I hope that the full-fledged camp will start on Monday,” the PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi said.
Surprisingly emerging international goalkeeper Aamir Gul has been dropped for the coming assignment. Aamir had been serving as a backup to the country’s prime goalie Jaffar Khan for the last one and a half year.
Probables: Muzammil Hussain, Jadeed Khan, Muhammad Tauseef, Manzoor Ahmed, Haider Ali, Zain Ullah, Arif Hussain, Usman Manzoor (all WAPDA), Saddam Hussin, Bilal Rafiq, Ali Ehsan, Muhammad Haji, Hussnain Abbas, Zeeshan Ali, Abdul Jabbar, Imran Abdullah (PIA), Amir Luqmam, Mehmood Khan, Muhammad Adil, Kalim Ullah, Ziaus Salam, Rizwan Asif (KRL), Ahsan Ullah, Ghazanfar Abbas, Muhammad Rashid, Saad Ullah (PEL), Amir Khan, Muhammad Mujahid, Mudassar Waseem, Nizam Uddin (PAF), Ubaid Ullah, Naveed Ahmed (KPT), Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Ullah Khan (Islamabad), Muhammad Omer, Muhammad Riaz (KESC), Tanveer Mumtaz, Abdul Razzaq (Faisalabad YC), Alamgir Khan (Police), Faisal Iqbal (NBP), Asim Mansoor (Young Blood), Sana Ullah (Baloch FC), Asif Bakhsh (Navy), Zakir Lashari (HBL), Muhammad Owais (PMC), Muhammad Idrees (Woahib FC).