By Natasha Raheel,
KARACHI: Despite a dismal show at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2016 U23 Championship qualifiers, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi hopes to extend coach Mohammed Shamlan’s contract, which ends in July.
“Shamlan is a good coach, he’s prepared the team well and we would want him to stay,” said Lodhi. “In fact, the Bahrain Football Association has indicated a positive response for extending his contract with us. However, they still need to give formal approval after discussing it amongst themselves,” said Lodhi.
Pakistan are currently competing in Group B of the qualifiers and will face Kyrgyzstan in their last match at the Al Qattara Stadium in Al-Ain, UAE on Wednesday.
“We still have one more match so we aren’t at the bottom yet,” PFF secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told The Express Tribune. “The coach did all that he could and so did the players.”
So far, Pakistan have suffered two defeats, going down 5-0 to Jordan 2-0 to Kuwait, which saw them sink to the bottom of the group without a point and shattered their hopes of qualifying for the main round of the 16 top teams from Asia.
“The way we played the game against Kuwait wasn’t bad, but conceding two goals in the first 10 minutes is unacceptable,” said Lodhi. “For the rest of the 80 minutes, the players performed well. However, the result against Jordan was extremely disappointing.”
Lodhi also stated that comparing Pakistan to Jordan and Kuwait is unfair, especially given the amount of money that is spent on the teams in Arab countries. “We’ve exhausted our funds due to the tours earlier this year. If we had more money, we would’ve sent the team to a preparatory tour to some country before the tournament and the result could’ve been better,” he said. “Jordan and Kuwait spend a lot more money because they have the resources.”
After Monday’s results, last edition’s bronze medallists Jordan and Kuwait stood as the top two sides in the group to progress in the competition, while Kyrgyzstan have only one point with one draw and one loss.