By Shazia Hasan [Dawn]
KARACHI, Nov 12: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi says that they are satisfied with the way the national football team performed at the 16th Asian Games football event in Guangzhou, China.
“We specially raised a team of young, under-21, players and even spent from our own pockets to send them to the Asiad. And we are glad to see them all put up a good fight against much bigger and stronger sides in the event,” said the secretary while speaking to on Friday.
The national team`s Asian Games sojourn ended a day prior to the opening of the Asian Games when they lost the last of their Group `F` matches 0-2 to Oman (Nov 11) after playing a goalless draw with the Maldives (Nov 9) and losing the opener to Thailand 0-6 (Nov 7).
“Kindly compare our ranking and the world ranking of these other outfits before judging the boys` performance against them. The Maldives was the weakest team in our group and we almost won the encounter against them when defender Samar Ishaq, unfortunately, missed a penalty kick in the final minutes,” he pointed out.
“What our boys really need at the moment is exposure,” Lodhi said. “And we went through a lot of trouble which even involved clashing with the government to get them that. It was not easy raising over Rs7 million to send them to the Asiad but we did it.”
Pakistan`s next assignment is the President`s Cup to be held in Sri Lanka from Dec 1 to 15. Asked if one can expect any changes in the team, he said: “Seeing the way these boys played, I think we will, more or less, stick with the same team.”
About the future of the team`s coach Akhtar Mohiyuddin, who was sacked by the PFF while on his way back from a South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) event in 2008, he said: “It is not like it was two years ago when the team under him lost even to Sri Lanka by 1-7. He seems to have learned from his past mistakes so his job his secure for now.”
So where does that leave 51-year-old English coaching consultant Graham Roberts, who is here for a test period of two months only after which the PFF has to make a decision about keeping him or sending him away?
“Well, we will sit down to discuss the terms and conditions of a long-term contract with him. Let`s see if we can agree on a package,” Lodhi concluded.