By Alam Zeb Safi,
KARACHI: It is not yet known who will be at the helm of affairs of Pakistan football in September when the premier league occurs as Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) election is slated to be held on June 30.
But irrespective of the result of the election, Pakistan will need some improvement in its league. And Pakistan’s midfielder Saddam Hussain also feels that. “It’s absolutely necessary to raise the league standard,” Saddam told ‘The News’ in an interview here on Friday.
“There are several flaws in it and I hope the PFF will take some positive steps to improve its standard,” said Saddam, who also played for Kyrgyzstan’s top club Dordoi Bishkek last season.
“There will be a need to bring in corporate sector to invest in the league. There is need of more foreign players in it to make it more competitive. The players of the current league cannot face pressure and standard of international games,” added Saddam, who also led Pakistan in the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this month .
Saddam said a small country like Nepal has been progressing well.
“Even in Nepal, the league clubs are being able to make deals with sponsors for their foreign players. Pakistani clubs should also follow suit. By doing so they would be able to hire foreign players,” Saddam said.
Saddam recently has severed ties with Dordoi and is expected to strike a deal with a Bahraini club when the window opens in August.
Saddam has played two Premier League seasons each from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and one for Dordoi which has also in its ranks Pakistan’s top players Kaleemullah and Mohammad Adil who are still serving the club being managed by Pakistan’s former Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic.
Saddam said unlike in the past the schedule of the coming league should be balanced.
“A team should get at least three days between matches. In the current system when a player gets injured in the league he does not find time for recovery,” Saddam said.
Saddam has re-joined KRL after expiry of his Dordoi’s contract. He gave his thumb up for reviving of Chaman as one of the league venues.
“Chaman is the most crowd-pulling venue. The people there love football. It should be revived as a league centre. The pitch is a great problem for the same place and if an artificial turf is laid there and security is provided during the matches then I am sure it will turn out to the most impressive destination for the league,” Saddam said.
He also advised Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to pick Peshawar as their home venue.
“I think PAF should play their home matches in Peshawar as it will help football of the region,” the player said. To a query Saddam said a better league will produce better players.
“Strong league counts a lot. No doubt, Pakistan has enormous talent. You saw we beat India in the series last August in India. But they have started a professional league which would help them in the future,” he said.
When quizzed about Pakistan’s stint in the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers in UAE, Saddam said the poor start proved fatal for the side.
“Had we got a better start against Jordon we could have sprung some surprise. But Jordon proved too good for us because of their strong football structure,” he said. “Kuwait could be overcome but they scored a couple of goals against us in the start that put us on the back foot,” he conceded.
“Kyrgyzstan were also tough as I know their standard because I have played there. But we beat them 3-1 and it’s a fantastic result,” Saddam added.