By Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: National coach Zavisa Milosavljevic believes Pakistan’s cup is brimming with footballing talent.
“I am surprised over the sort of talent Pakistan has,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ on Tuesday after being impressed by the talent of the Under-14 footballers showing their worth in the National Under-14 Football Championship currently under progress in Islamabad.
Serbia’s Zavisa, who was scheduled to head to Lahore from Islamabad on Tuesday after supervising a coaching clinic, had a look at the Pakistan colts for the first time since his signing as Pakistan’s coach on November 5, 2011.
Like Zavisa, Pakistan’s former coach George Kottan from Austria had also echoed the same views about Pakistan’s youth during his one-year tenure as a coach.
“Pakistan should have been one of the top Asian countries in football. Whenever, I come across Pakistan’s youth and see them playing, I really get impressed and always think that Pakistan can become a football power in Asia if they focus on building their youth on solid footings,” Kottan had told this correspondent in 2009.
Other former Pakistan coaches Salman Ahmad Sharida from Bahrain, former English footballers Graham Roberts and John Layton were also impressed by Pakistan’s young players.
Pakistan colts have already proved their worth by lifting the SAFF Under-16 Football Championship title in Nepal last year after edging out arch-rival India in the final. Pakistan did not lose any game and beat India twice in that tournament played for the first time.
Those who have watched Pakistan’s Under-13 and Under-14 teams at the AFC Festival of Football are fully aware of the talent Pakistan has at grassroots level.
The PFF has set for itself a target that Pakistan will be able to make the cut for the 2022 World Cup. The ambition is good and the target is achievable as there is a lot of stuff at its disposal but no solid plan has been chalked out so far.
It will need Pakistan to make a huge investment in the field if they want to reach to that position. Although FIFA and the AFC have been contributing in Pakistan’s football development, Pakistan’s government will also have to take a keen interest and invest in football to make the country capable of achieving its objectives.