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Zaviša happy with U22 tour of Thailand

by Alam Zeb Safi
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.

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    KARACHI: Pakistan team’s Serbian football coach Zavisa Milosavljevic says that even though he was satisfied with the team’s progress during their recently concluded practice tour of Thailand, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is still in the process of building a strong team for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Championship Qualifiers that are to take place in June.

    “I am happy with the way my boys played in Thailand against the top clubs of their premier league. We won two of the four matches we played there and are making good progress,” said the Serbian coach while speaking to Dawn on Friday.

    The team had just returned from a training tour of Thailand on Thursday night where they lost their first match 0-3 to Army United Football Club of Thailand followed by a 1-0 win against Bangkok Glass, a 4-1 triumph against Osapspa Football Club and a 1-2 loss against Thailand’s Division-II League top team Ayutthaya. “Our boys implemented all techniques while keeping ball possession with them most of the times. They played offensive football throughout,” said the coach.

    “The first match that we lost against Army United FC was due to the absence of four of our players namely, Kaleemullah, Mohammad bin Younis, Junaid Qadir and Faisal Iqbal who missed out because they did not have their Thai visas then. Army United FC is the top premier league team in Thailand,” he provided.

    “The next two matches, as you know, we won. Bangkok Glass and Osapspa FC are the second and third top clubs in Thailand and we beat them both. We could have also defeated Ayutthaya as we were clearly the better of the two teams in the last match but we paid the price for missing five to six good opportunities,” Milosavljevic explained.

    “What can one do? Our boys are still raw, they make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the game. Still we will try to overcome our shortcomings before our next assignment,” he hoped.

    Upon their return, the players have immediately become busy in the National U-22 Football Championship in Bahawalpur featuring 12 teams including provincial, departmental and club outfits.

    The focus of the national championship is to select/prepare the national U-22 team for AFC U-22 qualifiers scheduled in June but Zavisa intends to keep his options open until the very end.

    “Everybody, foreign players included, who measures up to national team standards will be given a chance,” he stated.

    “I want to put together the best talent available to me.”

    Pakistan U-22 side’s next foreign assignment is to play in Palestine against Tunisia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Iraq besides the hosts Palestine in mid may. “The fixtures or draws have not been taken out as yet but it will be our youth team against the full strength senior teams from the other countries in the competition. Preparatory camp for the Palestine trip begins on May 7, a day after the conclusion of the National U-22 Football Championship and we plan to leave for Palestine on May 13,” the coach said.

    “The Thailand tour was good for the boys as playing against any foreign side, be it a country or a club, gives you the much-needed exposure which is always extremely beneficial,” he said.

    “I hope to provide as much foreign exposure to our players as possible and am glad that the PFF agrees with me on this and is doing all that it can to make it possible,” he concluded.

    The main event all the preparation is going on for, the AFC Under-22 Championship Qualifiers, will see the Pakistan U-22 football team playing their Group ‘B’ matches at the King Fahd International Stadium and Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia from June 23 to July 3.

    The group comprises Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria and Kyrgyzstan besides Pakistan and hosts Saudi Arabia. Two teams from the group will move into the tournament proper to be held in 2013. Pakistan will play their first match against Saudi Arabia (June 23), second against Sri Lanka (June25), third against Kyrgyzstan (June 28), fourth against Syria (June 30) and fifth against Palestine (July 3).

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