KARACHI: Pakistan’s Serbian football coach Zavisa Milosavljevic said on Saturday, 30 July 2012, that he would not blame his players for the poor performance in the 2013 AFC U22 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia because it would take time to put this sport in Pakistan on the right track.
“I will not blame the players. They showed a lot of improvement after around three months of good training but I would say that they are still far behind the rest of the countries who are participating in the Asian Cup Qualifiers,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ in an interview from Riyadh on Saturday hours before his team’s fourth game against Syria.
Pakistan crashed out of the Asian Cup Qualifiers on Thursday night when they tasted a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Kyrgyzstan in their third game.
“Pakistan needs to strengthen its club structure. If you have a sound domestic system you will find players who will already know the basics of the game and a coach will have to focus on the build up, super training and preparation of the team ahead of any competition and not to work on their basics,” the Serbian pointed out.
He said that he came to know through the Asian Cup Qualifiers where Pakistan stands in football. “Pakistan is far behind and will have to adopt a solid approach to correct its football,” he said. “I will discuss the issues with the authorities and will try to sort out a solution for the problems,” the coach said.
“If the same team with slight changes is groomed for around two years, then I would be in a real position to explain myself,” said Zavisa, who was hired last November for two years.
He said that Pakistan should engage more coaches to run and develop different age-group teams. “There is a dire need of persistent and systematic grooming of different age-group teams under a healthy pool of highly qualified coaches which could produce and develop better stuff for the senior or Olympic sides,” he stressed.
“My responsibility is to run a senior team but I will also guide and support those coaches who will run age-group teams,” he said.
“But I once again say that this should be a continuous process and should not be halted,” he said.
He feared that his senior team could also face the same problems as confronted by the Undeer-22 team. “We have also forgotten our senior team as that side played for the last time around six or seven months ago in the SAFF Championship in New Delhi,” he said.
“When we will come back to focus on that senior lot ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers next year, we will have at our disposal very little time,” he pointed out.
“If we are to earn better results we will have to work persistently on our senior team as well,” he stressed.
When asked if the current Under-22 team would also feature in the South Asian Games in India early next year, Zavisa said, “I think by the induction of Rizwan Asif, Zia-us-Salam and a few more players, a better side could be developed for that event.”
“We were missing our three key players — skipper Kaleem Ullah, Ahsan Ullah and Junaid Qadir — which cost us the game against Kyrgyzstan,” Zavisa said.
Pakistan were scheduled to face Syria on Saturday night and will play Palestine in their last match on July 3.
NOTE: This interview with The News took place hours before the Pakistan vs Syria game, which Syria won 4-0 later in the evening.