By Shahrukh Sohail, Senior Correspondent, Islamabad
Humbled and outclassed by Singapore, Pakistan’s senior team was verbally blasted by fans from all walks of life.
Some labelled them as ‘good for nothings’, while others called for players who could play ‘real football’.
Foreign-based players were mostly to blame according to the vibrant commenting on FootballPakistan.com’s Facebook page. Allegedly, these professionals, who are plying their trade in Danish, Norway, English and Asian Leagues need to attend 15-20 day ‘camps’ in order to get accustomed to the playing style and their domestic counterparts.
Excuse me, but which primitive age are you and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) living in??
Where in the world do you see this happening? ‘Camps’ are a thing of the past, there’s a blatant reason why proper football competitions run 9 months and not on an ad-hoc basis like our current Pakistan Premier League.
Yes, the foreign-based footballers need some time to adjust, but for that, FIFA has regular match dates, which our Federation and fans tend to forget about.
From December 2011, to October 2012, there was no senior match being played, but yet the supporters are adamant with that with the inclusion of Zesh Rehman, Shabir Khan, Hassan Bashir, Muhammad Ali, Yousuf Butt and Adnan Ahmed, the side will beat a team like Singapore, which have been consistently playing at the highest level and preparing for their AFC Suzuki Cup challenge.
Unreal expectations at their best.
Another unfathomable comment was levied at perhaps one of the best players Pakistan has had in recent times.
Adnan Ahmed, a midfield maestro and the only person capable enough to marshal troops in the middle of the park, was criticized by a fan, who also went onto to claim that Zavisa Milosavljević should have selected KRL’s injured Yasir Afridi instead.
Adnan, who grew up while playing for 19-time English champions Manchester United’s famed youth academy and had the honour of partnering the likes of Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson, played for former Hungarian champions Ferencvárosi TC and Huddersfield Town in his later years, be waived aside because of a player like Yasir Afridi, who fails to light up even the mediocre PPL?
Clearly, even Zavisa would have laughed at this proposition.
Adnan’s unfortunate injury in practice game against a Singapore Selection XI meant he missed the actual friendly against Singapore. Without his reassuring midfield presence, Pakistan was played off the park by the hosts.
However, the debate goes on. Kaleemullah, who has managed to net nearly six hat tricks in the Premier League, has always failed to perform on the International front. This is a clear example of the gaping difference between our standards and the rest of the world.
You can’t expect foreign players to line-up and then perform. However, if you give them regular game time and utilize their skills on every FIFA Match date, only then will the Pakistan National Team ever prosper.
Local players will never be the solution to the problem unless the PFF takes a radical new approach and makes significant changes, which is something very few of us expect and even fewer understand.
PPL fan boys watch a match or two and then randomly throw in names that they think should start, whether it is the immense popularity of Muhammad Rasool, or the consistent backing received by former skipper Muhammad Essa. That, however, can’t be the motto anymore.
The only way forward at the moment would be calling up our foreign stars, getting in a few practise sessions to increase team chemistry and playing regularly, with the latter being the most important.
As it stands, the line-up should be favourable for Pakistan; it should not be a case of local talent vs. foreigners. And only a hand few from the PPL can be expected to start if all of the foreigners are called for duty and Zavisa gets to know them on the field.
A proposed starting eleven, which can help us improve our rankings if given the right time and facilities, is listed below.
Yousuf Butt (GK)
Zesh Rehman – Amjad Iqbal – Nabil Aslam – Shabir Khan
Luke Dean/Atif Bashir
Kaleemullah Rizwan Asif
Hassan Bashir-Muhammad Ali