Mohammad Shahnawaz, Director, Leeds
Yousuf Butt is looking forward to his first SAFF Championship having missed out on the 2011 event in India after he failed to get visa in time. He was a late call up then by the new coach Zavisa but instead of applying with the rest of the squad he applied from Denmark and was refused.
This meant Yousuf had to wait till 2012 to make his senior debut against Singapore. Butt also showed his excitement about the opening game of the group in which The Shaheens take on India and he said “I am really looking forward to my first ever Pakistan – India clash. I expect that we win against India”. However Butt was quick to add that they cannot get ahead of themselves and will have to take each game as it comes. He also pointed out that the group is very competitive as it has strong teams with hosts Nepal enjoying the home advantage and huge support.
He was shocked at the sacking of the Serbian coach after the Afghanistan defeat but expressed his confidence in the new coach and believed that a change in playing style and approach can galvanize the team. Butt highlighted that the team will have to adapt quickly to the climate and the environment in Nepal with 3 matches in 5 days as well as the requirements of the new coach.
When asked if Pakistan can break the jinx of not making past the group stages in the last 3 editions of SAFF Cup, he said “it’s not a jinx, we have just not been good enough at times and sometime unlucky too therefore we will have to show a better performance this time”. Butt alongside his brother Yaqoob and fellow Dane Hassan Bashir will be making their SAFF debut but have already tasted success in Nepal in February this year winning the 2 match series against Nepal in which Hassan scored in the opening game.
The BGA captain talking about his own fitness and preparations said “ I have been training hard and the has had a good start to the season with progression into the 2nd Round of DBU Cup”. He was also quick to recall the Pakistani International XI match in Bradford in July where he got to spend some time with his fellow internationals who will be at the SAFF Cup. It is important to mention that Yousuf managed to establish himself as the Number 1 Keeper for Pakistan from his very first start having made couple of sub appearances in friendly matches earlier. He also expressed his delight at the prospect of facing his childhood friend Jamal Bhuyan who is in the Bangladesh squad.
On Pakistan chances for SAFF Cup he said we will be taking one game at a time but I have a good feeling going into this event that we will do well.