By Shazia Hasan [Dawn]
KARACHI: Pakistan football team chief coach Tariq Lutfi who up until now was associated with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday took charge as head coach and consultant of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) football team.
“The KRL is a great team and I`m looking forward to working with the department, too,” said Lutfi while discussing the switch with on Tuesday.
Asked if he would miss working with his former department, Pakistans most experienced and qualified coach said: “Well, with PIA I was on a Leave Preparatory to Retirement [LPR] since the conclusion of the last Pakistan Premier Football League [PPFL]. I have been associated with PIA in the capacity of a player, team coach and manager since March 15, 1976.
“If they wanted to retain me they could have offered to extend my contract, which they did not do.
“It has been a very good 35 years but all good things also have to come to an end sometime.”
Meanwhile, welcoming Lutfi on board, KRL`s Deputy Director of Sports Ayaz Butt told that his department felt lucky to have the national coach guide their team to more greatness.
“Just look at his biodata and record. Lutfi Sahab, after all, is the chief coach of both the Pakistan men and women football teams. We are extremely pleased to be working with someone like him.”
He added: “The KRL team that has served as a nursery for gems of the likes of former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa, Rasool and Chaudhry Sarfaraz is also proud to see eight of its young talents in the current national team. They deserve the best.”
Asked what KRL football team`s other coach Sajjad Mahmood thought about this, he said: “Sajjad is also very much needed. He will assist Lutfi.
“We were the 2009-2010 PPFL champions and having won the National Football Challenge Cup [NFCC] title in 2009 and 2010, KRL, going into the 2011 edition, are on a hat-trick.
“The Pakistan football team has a team of coaches working with it and becoming a part of the elite league, we feel that KRL also deserves a team of coaches working with our boys.”
Following a busy playing career Tariq Lutfi became the first-ever FIFA coaching instructor from South Asia.
Having coaching qualifications through Bisham Abbey, Zbigiew Szumuski, Tomi Salave Ivic, B. Trautman, Holger Osiek, Burkhard Ziese and Terry Cassie Dittmer Cramer, he has the honour of attending several FIFA and Olympic courses.
It was his esteemed guidance that helped PIA win a record nine PPFL titles.
During his earlier coaching stint with the Pakistan team, he helped it take gold in the 1989, 1991 and 2004 editions of the South Asian Games.
The national women`s team, too, benefited from his experience during the inaugural South Asian Football Federation Women Championship in Bangladesh where the girls reached the semi-finals stage after beating Maldives and Afghanistan.