by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: After being restored both by court and FIFA, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has started its quest for hiring the services of a foreign coach ahead of this year’s Asian Games slated to be held in Indonesia in August and September.
“Yes, we have begun the quest and are in contact with Bahrain,” a senior official of the PFF told ‘The News’ on Saturday.
He said that the coach might be from Bahrain, Japan or any other country.
“It is not yet known from which country we will get our coach. But Bahrain is doing that for us. Getting a coach from Bahrain is more likely,” the official said.
The restoration from the court enabled the PFF to regain its headquarters in Lahore last month. The PFF accounts have also been restored. Following the development, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) approved a grant of 300,000 US dollars for the rehabilitation of the PFF secretariat which the federation claims has been badly damaged during three years of occupation by its rival group. FIFA sent a delegation to Lahore a few days ago which briefed the federation on the FIFA Forward Development Programme.
Before the emergence of football conflict in early 2015, Pakistan had the services of Bahraini coach Mohammed Shamlan, who these days is serving as head coach of a top-level club in Bahrain.
Bahrain had hired the services of Shamlan for the PFF.
It is expected the AFC chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa will again assist the PFF which needs great assistance in its efforts to re-develop football in the country as it has been destroyed during the last three years.
The PFF also has a plan-B in case a foreign coach is not hired. “If we failed to manage a foreign coach we have a few good home-grown coaches whose services can be utilised,” the official said.
Soon after being restored, the PFF appointed Pakistan’s only pro licence holding coach Shehzad Anwar as Director Technical. When Shamlan was Pakistan’s coach, he was also serving as Director Technical.
The PFF is also considering hiring the services of Shehzad as coach if Pakistan fails to hire a foreign coach ahead of the Asiad.
“Yes, Shehzad’s services can be utilised as a coach,” the official said.
Shehzad was Pakistan’s head coach in the SAFF Cup in Nepal in 2013. He was elevated to the post following the unceremonious ouster of Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic when the team lost to Afghanistan in an international friendly in Kabul.
The PFF also has on its radar former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa, who has licence B coaching course.
“Essa is very much there on our radar. He can be adjusted as an assistant coach and can be very fruitful for the team,” the official said.
Besides fielding its under-23 team in the Asian Games, Pakistan’s next target will be SAFF Cup which is to be held in Bangladesh soon after the end of the Asian Games in September.
The PFF plans to form teams for the purpose during the National Football Challenge Cup, which is scheduled to begin later this month in Karachi. The PFF is also preparing for organising the Premier League in the most befitting way.
Pakistan’s assistant coach Sajjad Mehmood has been appointed as Director Competitions.
The Premier League will begin in October and will continue till January 2019.
Because of three years of inactivity, national footballers faced huge career and financial losses. And it is a testing time for the PFF to overcome several issues in its way to put the sport back on track.