By Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Former Pakistan football team coach Akhtar Mohiuddin on Friday said that the country’s football team management should focus on building the confidence of the players ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Yemen.
“I think if players are given confidence before taking field against Yemen, Pakistan have a bright chance to perform well,” Akhtar told ‘The News’ in an interview from Quetta.
“It does not matter if Pakistan lost a few friendly matches in Malaysia and Thailand. These were training tours and in such matches coach makes different experiments in a bid to form a fighting combination. And I think Shamlan would have made his mind with which team he will have to go in the qualifiers,” Akhtar said.
The first leg of the qualifiers between Pakistan and Yemen will be held in Doha on March 12. The second leg will be conducted in Lahore on March 17.
Pakistan will arrive to Lahore from Bangkok on Saturday (today). After a day’s stay at the Punjab capital they would leave for Doha on March 9.
“The management has a few days at its disposal and during these days they should work over the mental toughness of the players. They should improve their confidence, concentration level and self control,” said the experienced coach.
“If players lose self control they would make blunders in the match. I think Shamlan can do this and he should not lose confidence in his players,” Akhtar added.
Akhar rated Pakistan as a strong side.
“I think Pakistan’s combination is too good and they should not feel any sort of fear and I hope they can topple Yemen,” Akhtar said.
“You know Yemen play their home leg in Doha which I think is a neutral venue and I don’t think in Qatar they would enjoy any crowd support. If we beat them or at least hold them in the first-leg then we can beat them at home as here we would exploit home conditions and crowd support,” Akhtar said.
However, Akhtar still feels a sort of fear, saying, Shamlan may face problem in coordination because of late joining of the foreign-based players.
“I have closely seen such situations. For building a rightly-gelled side and a coherent unit a coach needs all the players to practise under his watch for at least 15 days,” Akhtar pointed out.
“The fitness level of the players also varies. Our home-grown players are 70 percent fitter than the foreign-based boys. Our players are hard working. But no doubt foreign-based players are technically stronger than our local boys. All these differences may create problems for the coach,” said Akhtar, who last coached Pakistan in the 2010 China Asian Games.
Pakistan will have the support of Danish players Hassan Bashir, Mohammad Ali, Superliga former player Nabil Aslam, former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman and home-grown foreign-based professionals Kaleemullah, Mohammad Adil, Saddam Hussain and Mohammad Ahmed.
Akhtar showed faith in the experienced goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain.
“I think, of the three goalies Muzammil would be the best choice for the matches against Yemen. His match-temperament is better than Saqib Hanif and Ihsanullah,” he pointed out.