Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s former coach Tariq Lutfi has said that Bahraini coach Mohammed Shamlan has not been impressive so far.
“I don’t think Shamlan has had any impact since taking charge of Pakistan team last year,” he told ‘The News’ in an interview here on Sunday.
“There should have been a gradual improvement in his performance as a coach, but I don’t see any such thing. His predecessor Salman Ahmed Sharida from Bahrain was a shrewd coach and was much better. His formation and approach to the game was phenomenal. But in Shamlan no such positive thing has been seen so far,” Lutfi pointed out.
“When Pakistan were playing against Lebanon, I saw that Shamlan’s defence was not organised,” Lutfi recalled.
Even Zavisa Milosavljevic looked better than him, he said. “Zavisa was a bit defensive and his team used to lose by a slim margin, but you see the other day Pakistan under Shamlan lost to Indonesia 4-0 which is a very bad result as the hosts were not too strong,” Lutfi said.
He said if he (Lutfi) was given three to five years as a coach he was confident he would turn the team into a fighting lot. “We also have a few good coaches like Nasir Ismail, Shehzad Anwar and Gohar Zaman. If PFF relies on them and gives them the national team I believe they will have an impact after some time,” he said.
“The positive thing in keeping local coaches is that they know the mentality of the players and also are aware of the football politics. The foreign coaches rely on the advice of their advisors and there they are deceived which leaves a bad impact on their performances,” Lutfi elaborated.
Shamlan, a former Bahraini defender, took charge of Pakistan team in August last year after PFF sacked Zavisa following the team’s 3-0 loss against Afghanistan in Kabul.
In the subsequent SAFF Cup in Nepal in September, Shamlan served as an advisor to then coach Shehzad Anwar.
Shamlan’s first assignment as the coach was the Peace Cup in Philippines where his side beat Chinese Taipei 1-0 before losing to Philippines 3-1 in October.
Early this year, Pakistan lost to Lebanon 3-1 at Beirut in a friendly.
More recently, in Al-Nakba International tournament, Pakistan flopped without Shamlan after he was not issued permit by Israel and he could not proceed to Nablus with his team. His support staff failed to guide the team to the final.
Lutfi also said that it was useless to send a team abroad for just one game. “I think it is not a wise decision to send a team for just one match. This puts unnecessary pressure on the PFF’s finances. Instead of making such tours if the authorities opt to hold a camp in Bahrain or Iran it will be more useful as there they will get some good matches as well. I think Iran will be a much better option for the camp as you know they have a fine football environment and a strong club structure,” Lutfi said.
He also termed too many changes in the national team as detrimental to the whole setup which he said would have dangerous repercussions.
He said that gloveman Mohammad Omar would be a good choice. “I think Omar is an athletic keeper and if Shamlan picks him he will surely perform well,” he said.
About Pakistan’s forthcoming tour of India, Lutfi said that it would not be an easy tour. “The India tour will be a real test for the coach,” he said.
Pakistan are scheduled to tour India and Bahrain for a few matches in August. After that they will appear in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, from September 19 to October 4.