KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s head coach Jose Antonio Nogueira on Thursday said that they would not take Cambodia lightly, adding, he believes in his players and they would put in their best in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
“We are not taking Cambodia lightly. They have been making great progress over the years. They are playing good football but my team is motivated and in high spirit and will get ready for the challenge” Nogueira said.
“Our team is balanced and I have high hopes from my charges,” the Brazilian was quick to add. Nogueira is making all out efforts in Bahrain to prepare the side for the two-legged qualifiers against Cambodia to be held on June 6 and 11.
Pakistan team camp, which also carries foreign-based players, began at Manama on Tuesday at a time when one such camp had already started from May 5 in Islamabad under the auspices of Syed Ashfaq Hussain-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) which cannot field the team in the qualifiers as the same body is not recognised by both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Nogueira has in his support staff Brazilian goalkeeping coach Marcello Costa and Brazilian Beto Portella as the physical trainer besides Pakistan-based officials.
“We have already made our plan and know how to prepare the side in the stipulated time-frame. The players are not in bad shape and they will be able to get ready ahead of the first leg in Cambodia,” Nogueira said.
Pakistan had hired the services of Nogueira early last year at a time when Lahore High Court restored Faisal Saleh Hayat as the PFF head which had also forced FIFA to lift the ban that helped Pakistan resume its football activities.
After featuring in last year’s Asian Games and SAFF Cup, Pakistan also played a FIFA friendly against Palestine in Al-Ram before moving to Doha in December to hold camp to prepare for the FIFA World Cup and Olympic qualifiers.
However, during that time a change came as under the Supreme Court-ordered elections, Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah got elected as the PFF Chief. The same body took possession of the PFF headquarters in Lahore and its accounts as per the apex court instructions and so placed a full stop once again on Pakistan’s international engagement as Ashfaq’s body is not recognised by FIFA and the AFC.
However FIFA-recognised PFF decided eventually to go for a camp on foreign soil in order to ensure Pakistan’s team participation in World Cup qualifiers. The Cambodia-Pakistan two-legged round winners will qualify for the second round to be held later this summer.
The Nation adds:
LAHORE – Pakistan football team head coach Jose A Nogueira has said that the national team is well-balanced team and he has strong hopes from it.
“I have high hopes with my boys, as we have a balanced squad which has started to prepare for mission World Cup Qualifiers. We have enjoyed the day one training,” said Nogueira from Bahrain. The green shirts are in Bahrain for the preparation of two-legged first round of 2022 FIFA World Cup Pre-Qualifiers against Cambodia in June.
The head coach has termed it challenging as the Cambodia has shown reasonable progress in the last few years. “We are not taking Cambodia as an easy target. They are playing good football for the last few years, but my teams moral is high and they are ready to take the challenge,” the coach added.
“No doubt that Pakistan has stayed away from international football circuit for the last almost four years since the turmoil in Pakistan’s football in 2015, started with the interference by the previous regime to bring in its own supported people to take over PFF with the exception of few months in 2018 when Pakistan national team shared the football field in Asian Games in Jakarta and SAFF Cup in Dhaka.
“Amazingly the performance of the team was worth mentioning despite of the gap of several years. Unfortunately, the progressing Pakistan team was once again stopped in the end of December 2018 due to a change in the PFF on the court orders.
“In result of the elections held thereafter, the body elected was never accepted by the international football family, meaning by, having no international recognition, they don’t have the right to participate in an international event held under FIFA auspices or under Olympics charter while FIFA, AFC and all other international football governing authorities only recognize Faisal-lead PFF,” he added.
The Brazilian coach, supported by goalkeeper coach Marcello Costa and physical trainer Beto Portella (both also from Brazil), has claimed that a good work plan is already prepared for the side for the challenge against hardworking Cambodia. “We have already made our plan how to proceed with the preparations of the team. We realize that Cambodia is a very hardworking side.”