By Alam Zeb Safi,
KARACHI: Pakistan’s star striker Kaleemullah has said that frequent changes in the combination of the national team has inflicted a huge damage on Pakistan football.“Whenever a new coach comes, he makes so many changes in the Pakistan team which harm the growth of the brigade,” Kaleem told ‘The News’ in an interview from Rawalpindi on Saturday.
“Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic formed a fine combination and under his coaching the team was given extensive exposure by Pakistan Football Federation (PFF). But when he left, his successor Mohammed Shamlan of Bahrain made around ten to 12 changes which means that a new team was formed and the work which was done by Zavisa on a particular lot went in vain,” said the country’s finest striker, who is playing for Kyrgyzstan’s top club Dordoi Bishkek which is being managed by Milosavljevic.“Had the country carried the last SAFF Cup combination, there could have been a lot of productive results,” he pointed out.
Kaleem also feared that when he and his Dordoi-mate, the nimble-footed winger Mohammad Aadil, would join Pakistan team for India series they would face problems in coordination.“Definitely, if we are able to come for the India series I feel how we would be able to coordinate with the new players in the team with whom we have not played,” said Kaleem, who has returned home from Kyrgyzstan on a one-month leave.
Kaleem said that he and Aadil had informed Dordoi’s manager Milosavljevic and hopefully they would be released for the two-match Indo-Pak series to be held in Bangalore in the third week of August.After the India series Pakistan will proceed to Bahrain for a couple of matches ahead of the Asian Games.
However, Kaleem said he would not be available for the Bahrain tour due to his committments with Dordoi. “Our club Dordoi will play two or three friendly matches and I would be part of it,” said the Chaman-born striker, who has signed a fresh two-year deal of Rs10 million with Dordoi which leads the country’s top league after 14 matches.Kaleem is so far the leading scorer of the Kyrgyzstan league with 14 goals to his credit in as many games.
Kaleem also clarified about his availability for the Asian Games to be held in Korea in September-October. “Yes, I will be available for the Asiad,” he said. Kaleem said in Kyrgyzstan the clubs have strong grassroots culture, adding that Pakistani clubs should also follow suit which is the only way to improve national football.
“During my stay in Kyrgyzstan I was impressed by the grassroots culture of their clubs. Their top five clubs have strong grassroots structure as they keep and train their different age-groups teams in a professional manner. They also give them international exposure. They are very skilled players and I see a bright future for Kyrgyzstan football,” he explained.“If departments in Pakistan also follow grassroots culture of the Kyrgyzstan’s clubs then I firmly believe that one day we will also get the benefits.”
Kaleem said that Kyrgyzstan’s women football was also good.“Their girls are sent to Turkey and Russia for training and we should also do that in Pakistan,” he said. While comparing the approach of the coaches and managers of Pakistan with those of Kyrgyzstan Kaleem said in Kyrgyzstan coaches are more professional.“Kyrgyzstan’s coaches are more professional and work more scientifically,” he said.
He also gave credit to his coach and benefactor Milosavljevic in his success.“I think the whole credit goes to Zavisa. He believes that we have the talent and I proved that during my association with the club. He is a professional coach and deserves accolades,” he said.
About his lucrative contract with Dordoi, Kaleem thanked God Almighty for what he has achieved.“I am very thankful to God for what I have achieved. But it is not my target as I want to go ahead and would like to find a niche in any club of Europe,” he wished. Kaleem said whenever he would be free in future his services would be available for KRL.
“KRL has a leading role in my make-up and I will always be indebted to it,” he said. He also called upon the football authorities in Pakistan not to ignore the seniors.
“You know, Germany won the World Cup with most of their players over 24-year of age. It is not right to shut doors on the seniors,” he said.