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Saturday, July 27, 2013

SAFF U-16 Championships: Team’s dismal show casts shadow over Pakistan’s footballing future [DAWN]

Umaid Wasim – DAWN

KARACHI, July 24: They went with so many aspirations. They will be coming back with so less.
There will be a new name inscribed on the SAFF U-16 trophy next Tuesday after defending champions Pakistan were knocked out of the group stage following a 3-0 reverse at the hands of hosts Nepal on Wednesday.Pakistan went to Nepal for the second edition of the event high on confidence but after two successive draws in their first two games against Afghanistan and Bhutan left them needing victory in the final Group ‘A’ match against the hosts.Instead, they succumbed to the pressure — and the rains — in Kathmandu.“There was a lot of pressure on the boys,” Pakistan coach Sajjad Mehmood, who led the side to glory in the inaugural edition in 2011, told Dawn after the match at Kathmandu’s Dasarath Rangasala Stadium.“Heavy downpour didn’t help either as they disrupted our passing moves while for Nepal, it became an advantage as they are well-equipped to play in such conditions.”Pakistan fell behind in the 13th minute, according to the information received here, when Sajan Limbu headed in a rebound after Pakistan goalkeeper Mohammad Junaid could only parry Hemant Thapa Magar’s effort into his path.Pakistan failed to make much of an impact, with their best chance falling to Adnan Ashraf who saw a free-kick saved.Nepal’s Bimal Gharti Magar doubled his side’s lead in the second-half before he rounded off the scoring in the 73rd to put Pakistan out of the competition.Nepal finished as group winners and will be joined by Afghanistan in the semi-finals after the latter romped to a 3-1 victory over Bhutan courtesy Nasar Ahmed’s double.Nepal topped the group with seven points, followed by Afghanistan (5), Pakistan (2) and Bhutan (1).For Pakistan it was a dismal end to their campaign which promised so much but delivered so less.And it raises serious question marks over this side which was billed as the ‘best U-16 team’ the country had produced and its players were dubbed to be ‘the future of Pakistan’.Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi was at a loss to explain the team’s poor showing.“I think the team didn’t click at all despite our best efforts,” Lodhi told Dawn on Wednesday. “Maybe we were unable to give them proper exposure fir the event.”Other signs point to improper planning by the PFF.During the National U-16 Championships in Abbottabad in June, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) coach Nasir Ismail was in the selection committee.Nasir, who led NBP to National Challenge Cup title in May and served as assistant coach to Serbian Zavisa Milosavljevic in Pakistan’s senior team, however was left out of the Nepal-bound squad.According to former Pakistan coach and current KRL boss Tariq Lutfi, though, the PFF did its best efforts but it was down to the coaches to make the team play.“It is up to the coaches to make the team play,” Lutfi told Dawn in the aftermath of Pakistan’s inglorious exit. “If they can’t do that then they should be answerable.”PFF, and many of Pakistan’s former internationals, insist the country’s junior teams are up to the mark with the top teams in Asia.But the team’s performance in the regional event — which hardly features the continent’s powerhouses — raises several doubts over that claim.“The talent is there,” Lutfi said, before adding “it needs grooming”. “This is a really bad result for the junior lot of the country.”So if this team is destined to be the future of the country, where did it go wrong?“We missed a lot of chances in our opening two games,” Sajjad lamented. “If we had taken those, things would have been different.”The next chance for redemption for Sajjad’s charges would come in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers where Pakistan will play Iran, UAE and Sri Lanka in Group ‘E’ here at the People’s Sports Complex in September.“We need to try and overcome our weaknesses for that event,” Sajjad added. “It is an important event for the team.”Pakistan’s colts went into the competition hoping for a good performance that would’ve lead some of them to Fulham’s academy, with PFF’s marketing consultant Sardar Naveed Haider Khan in talks with the English Premier League club’s Pakistan-born owner Shahid Khan.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Afghan FC end KRL unbeaten streak, PFFL results

KARACHI: Afghan FC and Wapda won their Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) matches as two more matches were played in the second division league on Tuesday.
Afghan FC edged past Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) 2-1 at the Municipal Stadium in Rawalpindi.
The goals for the winners were scored by Najeebullah (18th min) and Ahmad Shah (50th min) as Saadullah (67th min) reduced the margin for the losing side.
Wapda beat Baloch FC 2-0 at Railway Football Stadium in Lahore with both the goals coming through Arif Mahmood in the 39th and 79th minutes.
Wednesday will be a rest day in the PPFL main round.
Meanwhile, in the second division, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) beat Railways 3-2 at the Jinnah Football Stadium in Islamabad. Two goals for the winners were scored by Izharullah (23rd and 52nd mins) while Hikmatullah (27th min) added another. For the losing side, Asif Hamid (68th and 84th mins) scored both the goals.
In the other match, also played at the same venue, Higher Education Commission (HEC) beat Mecca Flour Mills, Faisalabd 2-1. Nauman Shahid (41st min) and Rashid Masih (55th min) scored for HEC while Sibtain Abbas (31st min) reduced the margin for Mecca Flour Mills.
Pakistan rue their missed opportunities

Pakistan rue their missed opportunities

Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevic feels his side's lack of a proper striker ruined their chances of beating Bangladesh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
By Derek Michael
The SAFF Championship opener between Pakistan and Bangladesh ended in a goalless draw, with Pakistan wasting several opportunities to a vital win.
"We could have easily won the match, but for the wasted chances. We don't have a typical striker; and by typical I mean a player who will score from anywhere and can score any time," lamented Milosavljevic.
Nevertheless, the Serbian was satisfied with his team's overall performance.
"The Bangladesh team is really good. I am happy with my boys' performance, as I couldn't have asked for anything more," he said.
"Our next match is going to be an interesting one and hope we can win that. We are not thinking about the semi-finals. We are going to take it one match at a time," added the Serbian when asked about the match against Maldives on December 4.
Though his team received accolades from his opposite number, Bangladesh coach Nikola Ilievski felt the team could have performed better, but was nevertheless relieved to walk away with a point.
"We played poorly and we could have been victim of a real bad scoreline, but luckily we walk away with a point. I am disappointed with the performance," said Ilievski.
The Macedonian also felt that injuries to a couple of key players was another reason for the draw against Pakistan.
"We have badly missed the services of Raju and Shakeel, who have had been the mainstay of our team for the last couple of years. They are our midfield backbones," added Ilievski.

Lahore, October 14, 2011 

Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, President Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) who is also the member FIFA Disciplinary Committee, met Mr. Jospeh S. Blatter, President FIFA on 13 October, 2011. He expressed his gratitude to Mr. Blatter for his commitment to expedite the process for the construction of five sanctioned FIFA Goal Projects for the flood affected people of Pakistan which has alleviated their sufferings and brought back cheers on their faces. 

According to the press release issued here by PFF, President PFF has expressed his appreciation for the commitment being shown by FIFA President Mr. Jospeh S. Blatter for five FIFA Goal Project sanctioned by FIFA for the flood affected areas of Pakistan. Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat said that these projects shall greatly help and enhance the standard of football in these areas which have gone through this calamity. President PFF also thanked FIFA President for his commitment in successfully completing two Grassroot Coaching Courses in Pakistan with great fanfare. 

Mr. Jospeh S. Blatter assured Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat of his complete support in expediting the construction work on five FIFA Goal Projects and appreciated whole hearted efforts of Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat for the promotion of football in Pakistan. He also congratulated Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat on his unopposed election for the third term which reflects the trust reposed in him by the football family of Pakistan, the winning of the SAFF U-16 Football Championship in Nepal portrays your un flinched commitment to the game, on these achievements FIFA shall seriously consider enhancement in annual allocation. 

Mr. Jospeh S. Blatter further said that as member FIFA Disciplinary Committee of FIFA for last two years you have settled the legal issues in a positive manner, which shows your ability as well as your commitment to the game of football in an overall position. 

Agha Muhammad Ajmal 
Media Manager 
Cell # +92-301-4499578 
Phone # +92-42-99230821-22 (Ext. 153) 
E.Mail Address: media_manager@pff.com.pk

Friday, August 19, 2011

PFF requests PM, CMs to reward Pak U16 team

Lahore, Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has requested the honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani and all the four provincial Chief Ministers to kindly sanction special grant of Rs. 10 million and 5 million each respectively to PFF for the U-16 team which has brought laurels for the nation by defeating arch rivals India in the final of South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship held at Dasrath Stadium Katmandu, Nepal.
According to the press release issued here by PFF, this encouragement will not only boost their morale but will certainly motivate young national heroes to devote their utmost energies for the improvement of the game, which will take Pakistani soccer to a new and a high level of international prestige.

Boxing champ Amir Khan backs Pakistan for Clash of Titans UK

British-Pakistani world boxing champion Amir Khan and British-Indian award winning artist Jaz Dhami joined forces to show their support of the hugely anticipated India versus Pakistan football friendly fixture at the boxer's home turf in Bolton at Reebok Stadium.

Supported by world governing bodies, FIFA and The Football Association alongside Kick It Out, the friendly football fixture will take place on the 3rd September at Derby County as well as on the 9th September in Glasgow.
The 'Clash of the Titans' tour will set centre stage for these two heavy weights to lock heads in a series of games up and down the UK and also give precedence to help bring communities together in a wider social message via the power of football.
Amir added ' I will be attending the Derby County fixture, and I will be honoured with the task of bringing on the Pakistani team to show my support to this great footballing fixture, however I wish both teams the beat of luck.

Jaz Dhami said' I am excited to get involved and support the clash of the Clash of the Titans tour. India and Pakistan are primarily noted for their cricketing abilities and this tour will give the UK sports enthusiasts the opportunity to see these two big nations don their football boots and show what they have on the pitch’
The FA's Ambassador Brendon Batson also expressed his support of the 'Clash of the titans tour'. Brendon said ' I have worked closely with the Asian community for several years at the FA, helping to build bridges and lending support so that the Asian community may become more involved in the beautiful game. This fixture will hopefully offer further encouragement for Asian kids across the UK to put on their boots and prove that football is a universal  and inclusive sport. There are many opportunities for Asian kids to play at the highest level possible which this fixture clearly demonstrates.
Ahmer Kunwar, Director of TouchSky Sports added, 'this fixture presents a great opportunity for Indian and Pakistani football fans and families to come out and support their native teams and enjoy the carnival atmosphere. The match has received overwhelming support with excellent take up on ticket sales and the tour website inundated with several thousand hits per day. We look forward to putting on a great show with football, music and half time football activities with children on the pitch with stars'

Pakistan’s camp for India football series to get underway tomorrow

LAHORE: The training camp for Pakistan team’s two-match football series against arch-rivals India, to be held in England, will get underway at the Punjab Football Stadium here from Saturday. 
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has announced 18 probables for the camp. In addition, four England-based Pakistani players may also be considered for selection.
The matches between the two teams are scheduled to be held on Sept 3 at the Derby Pride Park and on Sept 9 in Glasgow,

Earlier, the series comprised three matches, but later on it was reduced to just one match. However, it has now been decided that it would be a two-match rubber.
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Umar, Jahangir

Defenders: Faisal Iqbal, Haji Mohammad, Alamgir Khan, Manzoor Ahmed, Ahsanullah
Midfielders: Kaleemullah, Mahmood Khan, Syed Arif Hussain, Mohammad Adil, Irfan Khan
Strikers: Hasnain Abbas, Mohammad Ikram, Mohammad Rizwan Asif, Saddam Hussain, Rehan Munir, Hassan Bashir
England-based probables: Adnan Farooq Ahmed, Atif Bashir Qureshi (mid-fielders); Shabbir Khan (defender); Yousuf Ijaz Butt (goalkeeper)
Officials: Tariq Lutfi (coach); Syed Nasir Ismail, Gohar Zaman (assistant coaches); Mohammad Aslam Khan (goalkeeping coach).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pakistan’s Cinderella Story

In this day and age, it is rare to see Pakistan coming out on top in a sporting event. Even rarer is seeing Pakistan win anything when it comes to the beautiful game: Football.  Anyone who has been following Pakistani football for the last number of years will realize that our national team’s performance has been a mix of disappointment and hap hazard ad-hoc preparation and most of this year has been no different.
All of that changed this August in Nepal, when Pakistan’s U-16 team stunned everyone by rampaging through to win the inaugural SAFF U-16 Championship with style, grit, determination and a display of good football. What was even more remarkable was that Pakistan beat eternal rivals, and tournament favourites, India twice in the same tournament to be crowned champions of this 6 team tournament also featuring hosts Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives.
The last time Pakistani football tasted success, at any level, was five years ago: Winning the football gold in the 2006 South Asian Games under Bahraini coach Salman Ahmed Sharida. This time, it was under Sajjad Mehmood and Hassan Baloch that the young guns emerged victorious at Dasarath Rangsala Stadium in Nepal.
The Pakistan team scored an astounding 11 goals, conceded just 1, and won all of its matches with star striker Mansoor Khan and winger Sher Ali being the star performers, with Muhammad Bilal top scoring with 4 goals (all in same match against hapless Maldives), captain Muneer ul Haq being a rock in defence, and goalkeeper Usman Khan being a reliable presence at the back.
However, this was not an easy route. In the run-up to the tournament, Pakistan had the worst possible preparation to begin with. The National U-16 Championship that was billed to help prepare and select the best possible team for the tournament was cancelled by PFF. This forced the coach Hassan Baloch of KESC to call up most of his former U-13 and U-14 troops that he had guided to impressive results in various AFC ‘Festivals of Football’ over the past 2-3 years to be part of the current U-16 team. The team had to rely on playing practice games with a few local sides just to get into rhythm.
However, despite all the odds, Pakistan started the SAFF U-16 campaign with a 1-0 shock win over favourites India in the first game of Group A, with Mansoor Khan’s lone goal being enough at the end. This feat had a bigger sense of achievement around the win as India’s U-16 had been regularly training in 2010 at USA’s renowned IMG Soccer Academy in Florida as part of the Indian U-15 side, and were arguably far superior in technique, organization, and skill.
India struggled to equalize and despite coming close many times, Pakistan held out for the win. With morale high, Pakistan then went into the next game against Maldives and hammered them for six in a 6-0 win as they qualified for the semi-finals by topping their group. Muhammad Bilal scored four goals that day, with two goals and a few assists from star winger Sher Ali.
In the semi-finals, Pakistan fought tooth and nail with a gritty Bangladesh side on a difficult pitch and it took two very late goals from Mansoor Khan (89’) and Sher Ali (90+1’) to help Pakistan through to the final.
The final was a high tempo affair with Pakistan and India going at each other from the kick-off whistle. But Pakistan stunned their rivals again by taking a lead through Muhammad Zeeshan’s speculative 23rd minute shot that beat Indian goalie Supritam.
India managed to equalize just before half time through Daniel Lalhimplua. The second half started in rocking fashion when Mansoor Khan once again proved to be India’s tormenter as he scored from a corner after just 5 minutes, forcing India to chase again.
Despite all their efforts, India ran out of ideas as Pakistan’s defence held on for a memorable triumph at the end to be crowned the first ever South Asian U-16 football champions.
One of the surprising moments of the tournament was the amazing support shown by Nepalese fans towards Pakistan throughout the entire tournament.
This title win, as team captain Muneer said on return, was a gift to Pakistan over its upcoming Independence Day anniversary of 14th August. Sajjad Mehmood and Hassan Baloch performed great as a team, and Hassan Baloch in particular deserves special praise for his efforts in making the youth teams under him perform and train much better in international football for the past three years.
Now the boys will be preparing for the 2012 AFC U16 Championship qualifiers in Kuwait next month that features hosts Kuwait, UAE, Yemen, Maldives, and surprise package Afghanistan. Realistically, Pakistan’s U-16 team will not overcome the much tougher and stronger Middle Eastern teams in the group but such experience at international level will help them grow, improve and mature as they get older as players.
The best way to ensure that good progress continues is by arranging much needed preparation camps abroad in countries like Iran, UAE etc, allowing the boys to train and practice with good Asian clubs to better assess their standing as players and giving the best performers the chance of playing for the better clubs to help facilitate their improvement and growth.
The final victory suddenly garnered tremendous media and public attention, with the PFF announcing a Rs 3 million reward for the win, given how much criticism and disappointment it has had to endure this year because of senior national team results.
Victory for Pakistani football is seldom, and this U-16 result is something to really cherish and celebrate. Good times lie ahead, no doubt, but it will take dedication, innovation, and vision to ensure that they come aplenty soon.
Team coach Sajjad Mehmood was right when he said that this result shows Pakistan has talent in football. However, the system of football in Pakistan still remains a problem to deal with. The clumsy domestic structure of department teams, rather than city-based privately owned and operated professional clubs, remain dominant in Pakistani football which only inhibits talent, development, and professionalism.
Be Champions!