by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: With Pakistan slumping to 197th place — their lowest ever spot — in the FIFA rankings, national midfielder Saddam Hussain fears the absence of international football will make Pakistan the ‘worst team in the world’.
Saddam, who has represented KRL and Kyrgyzstan’s Dordoi FC in the past, feels that the current crop of national footballers are not the only ones suffering from the political infighting in the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF); saying that the year-and-a-half-long standstill has pushed the country’s football back several decades.
“It is extremely disheartening and disappointing to see Pakistan ranked this low,” Saddam told The Express Tribune. “If the trend continues then we might even become the worst team in the world.”
He further added, “Foreign clubs won’t sign us because we haven’t played a single international match in more than a year and the youngsters would be the biggest losers. It is like the opportunities have been taken away from us just because of the egos of the PFF officials.”
One group of the PFF is led by incumbent president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, who is recognised by FIFA, while his rivals are backed by the Lahore High Court, which has appointed administrator Asad Munir to run the day-to-day affairs of the federation.
And Saddam rued the state of the youth setup, which according to him, would become ‘extinct’.
“Kaleemullah, Muhammad Adil, Saadullah and I came through the youth setup. The PFF would send us to represent the country in international matches and that really helped us in our careers,” he said. “I’m worried that with the current status quo, the U16 and U19 teams would become completely extinct.”