By Alam Zeb Safi,
KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s assistant coach Hassan Baloch on Friday said that the confidence level of the players was not good during the 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship Group B qualifiers held in Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week.
“The confidence level of the players was not good and that was the key reason behind the team’s failure,” Hassan told ‘The News’ in an interview.
“The confidence level could be improved with more exposure,” he said.
In the four-nation group, Pakistan finished third. After losing to Jordon 5-0 and Kuwait 2-0, the Green-shirts were able to defeat Kyrgyzstan 3-1 in their last outing to salvage some pride in the competitions which served as qualifiers for the next year’s Rio Olympics.
Pakistan team returned to Lahore on Thursday night. Coach Mohammad Shamlan proceeded from Dubai to his hometown in Bahrain. Hassan said the defence did not click against Jordon. “The defence remained shaky. And when you concede a couple of goals within no time then certainly it becomes difficult for you to stage a fight-back,” Hassan added.
He said the players of Jordon seemed very mature. “Their players were physically very strong and it was a real problem for our boys to compete with them. Only our keeper Saqib Hanif played well against them,” Hassan conceded.
Hassan said Pakistan should have defeated Kuwait. “I think we played really well against Kuwait and we should have won that match, but we missed a handful of chances,” Hassan said.
Hassan said Pakistan should have got a few pratice matches before the competitions. “We should have flown to UAE a bit earlier and should have played a few matches against the local clubs. Other teams don’t go into competitions directly. They play practice matches before the event,” he said.
Hassan said Shamlan was very happy when Pakistan beat Kyrgyzstan in their last outing. “Our team played nicely against Kyrgyzstan. And Shamlan was very happy with the result. He also gave Rs5000 each to Saqib Hanif, Mansoor Khan, Bilal and Shehbaz for their fine performances,” Hassan revealed. He said that Shamlan was expected to come to Lahore before Ramadan.
Meanwhile, sources said that Shamlan, whose contract will expire in July, has been negotiating a deal with Bahrain’s club Al-Riffa.
However, other sources said that Shamlan might opt to stay as Pakistan coach if his package was raised.
They said the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) had been giving 12,000 dollars per month to Shamlan for serving Pakistan.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has already requested BFA for extending Shamlan’s contract.
A top PFF official said if India got sponsorship then they would go for holding the SAFF Cup in July. “The plan is there but dates are not yet finalised,” a PFF official said.