Saturday, April 28, 2012 [The News]
KARACHI: Pakistan football coach Zavisa Milosavljevic has said that the Under-22 team’s tour of Thailand was successful as it helped the boys learn a lot of things that would help them in the Asian U22 Cup Qualifiers to be held in Saudi Arabia in June-July.
“It was a very successful tour,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ in an interview from Lahore on Friday after returning from Bangkok.
“Although it is still the beginning and was a part of the preparation for the vital assignment in Saudi Arabia, I would say that the tour has helped us a lot as the boys played against some good Premier League teams of Thailand in which players from Brazil, Germany, France and Argentina were also playing,” the Serbian said.
“Although it was altogether a good tour, I am still not satisfied and would say that we will have to work a lot and the players need more improvement,” added the coach.
But the coach was happy with the way his players implemented what they were told before the game. “But I am happy that the boys have started learning how to implement what we discuss in the dressing room,” he pointed out.
“The players demonstrated lot of improvement tactically and technically and we saw there some soft finishsing, especially by the wing midfielders and they were also really fine in keeping well their zonal positions,” he said.
“I am happy that the players now don’t go only to play the game but they know how to play it in an organised fashion and how to act according to the plan,” the 52-year-old coach said.
On the tour of Bangkok, Pakistan played four practice matches against the local clubs: they were crushed by the top Thai Premier League outfit Army United FC 3-0 in their opener; the Greenshirts fought back strongly by beating Bangkok Glass 1-0 and Osotspa Saraburi 4-1 before conceding their fourth and last match 1-2 against Division-II League top team Ayutthaya.
The coach declined to comment on any individual player’s performance, saying that all of them had made improvement but they still needed to work hard to reach the international standards.
He disclosed that the players would re-assemble in Lahore on May 6 to undergo a short training camp ahead of the tour of Palestine where the team is to feature in an international tournament from May 14-22. Pakistan are expected to leave for Palestine on May 13.
“I need more international friendlies ahead of the Asian U22 Cup Qualifiers and we will get some of them at the tournament in Palestine which will further help us build a strong side,” he said. “Then we will hold a month-long final camp and it will be very crucial and in that we will focus on more situational practices and it will involve high level of tactical duties, physical preparations until the team is brought to the top form for the ten-day competitions in Saudi Arabia,” Zavisa explained.
“I will also watch a few matches of the National Under-22 Football Championship currently underway in Bahawalpur and if I get a few good boys I will try to compare them with the ones I have in the current lot before picking them for national duty,” he said.
In the Asian U22 Cup Qualifiers to be held from June 23 to July 3, Pakistan have been placed in Group B with Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Palestine and Syria. The Greenshirts will start their campaign with the match against the hosts Saudi Arabia on June 23, which will be followed by their game against Sri Lanka on June 25, against Kyrgyzstan on June 28, against Syria on June 30 and against Palestine on July 3.
The matches will be played at the King Fahd International Stadium and Prince Faisal bin Fahd International Stadium. Two teams from the group will move into the tournament proper to be held next year.