Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune
KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Essa Khan predicts a bright future for the country’s football team after his visit to the national training camp in Lahore, where the team is preparing for the AL-Nakba International tournament.
The event is scheduled to take place in Palestine starting May 11, with Pakistan set to compete against Iraq, Bangladesh, Jordan and Sri Lanka. The team is expected to leave on May 8.
Essa attended the national camp to work with head coach, Mohamed Shamlan of Bahrain, for a week.
According to the former captain, even though Shamlan is working to train the team for the Al-Nakba tournament, the Bahraini’s vision is to look beyond instant success.
“It appears that Shamlan wants long-term results, he is not just focused on one tournament,” Essa told The Express Tribune.
“He wants the team to flourish and the youngsters he has picked for the camp have improved. I’ve observed that even in a short camp like this one, they have learned new techniques.
“Shamlan is not only looking to train the new players but also older ones such as me. I’ve spent this time learning from him about coaching techniques. It’s a refreshing change.”
Essa also witnessed the practice match between Pakistan Premier Football League champions KRL and the national side.
He said that although KRL won 1-0 in the field, but the new national side has the potential to hold their own game.
“KRL is an experienced side, but this new team held them and proved to be formidable. I believe that these players can surprise us in Palestine,” said Essa.
Meanwhile, Essa added that the current pool of players in the national side can play for the next 10 years for the country.
“It is going to be long-term planning versus short-term. Shamlan’s strategy is to develop the sport on every level.
“Modern football is not just about depending on the federation, there are clubs and other stakeholders to consider. Unfortunately in Pakistan, we still don’t have that set up. But Shamlan is trying to bring that culture here.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2014.