Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Kathmandu
Despite the sacking of Zavisa Milosavljević, Pakistan remain determined to make their mark in the SAFF Championship starting with the game against India.
The vocal opponents maybe superior in terms of rankings, but coach Shahzad Anwar argues that his team can oust anyone on their day.
“Our team has the capability to beat anyone,” said Shahzad while exclusively talking to FootballPakistan.
“We are very motivated for the first match against India. I think all teams in our region are equal.”
Continuing the tactician added that Pakistan are well prepared ahead of South Asia’s biggest competition and will look to capitalize on their chances for progression.
“We have very good preparation and a very young lot. And we want to produce a good result in the SAFF Championship. We are prepared and we will qualify for the next round,” he added.
Serbian boss Zavisa was sacked just hours after the side returned from the defeat against Afghanistan, but Shahzad believes that the new coach has already provided valuable insight and the game in Kabul will have no real effect on the Pak Shaheens’ performance this time around.
“Earlier we played a practise match and we lost, but it’s not that important. We played in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers and several other games this year, so that will help us and Insha’Allah we will get a good result.”
“In 2005, we had a foreign coach and that was the case again in 2011. We are working with foreign coaches and now the Pakistan Football Federation gave me a chance and we have a coach from Bahrain to help us as well. He has given us good and valuable advice so far,” the former U-19 trainer added during the press conference in Kathmandu.
The inclusion of foreign-based players has always divided opinion in Pakistan, but Anwar is confident about their abilities and also shed some light on hosts Nepal, whom the Shaheens beat twice in February.
“The inclusion of foreign-based players is very good and they will help the team improve. We don’t have any pressure and our players are very motivated. We play against India and then against Nepal. Nepal is very good tactically but in friendlies, they were preparing but they are in a good position now,” he claimed.
Pakistan’s most famous player, Zesh Rehman, who has played in the English Premier League for Fulham, has also been called up for the tournament and according to skipper Samar Ishaq, his presence is a guiding light for other players on the pitch, not a pressure point.
“Zesh Rehman is a professional player and his inclusion has improved the team a lot. There is no pressure on other players, he is our brother and he helps us improve. So it doesn’t pressurize us at all,” the veteran centre-back was quoted as saying to FootballPakistan.
Pakistan will their first game in a mouth-watering tie against India on the 1st of September at the Darasath Rangasala Stadium.