A cricketing melee
By Azhar Hameed
The PCB

hierarchy and the cricketing fraternity all over Pakistan must make a concerted resolve to revive the moribund state of Pakistan cricket in general and more specifically engineer some constructive measures for the national team

The shame of Harare and Mohali
Pakistan is paying the price for a systematic massacre of talent which has enabled mediocrity to creep in on the field
By Sohaib Alvi

The quality of cricket, the body language and the lack of determination that was on display by Pakistan in Harare and Faisalabad Wolves in Mohali is not shocking; it is earth shattering. I have been said to be overcritical over the last few years in fact right up to 2004-05 when favoritism started to creep in and dirty politics began to be played in selection of teams. Not that it hadnít existed before but it was now coming out blatantly, and being done when we had little comparable talent to replace the ones who were victims of the targeted operation.

Kept out unjustly
There is a serious lack of consistency when it comes to team selection
By Mushfiq Ahmad

Wily leg-spinner Abdur Rehman once again proved his worth in the Test series against Zimbabwe. He took nine wickets in two matches, at a very healthy average of 19.88. He was the third highest wicket-taker after Saeed Ajmal and TL Chatara. 


Pakistan hockey: past, present and future
Several much-needed steps should be taken without wasting any time if we want our national game to bounce back following a series of debacles
By Shahnaz Sheikh

Former Olympian
Pakistan made its mark in the realm of hockey soon after Independence, by showing the same intensity which was seen in the struggle for freedom. The purpose was to assert a distinctive identity as a nation. 


Pitiful performances
If the senior management is satisfied with the teamís performance then why should the players worry about anything?
By Khurram Mahmood

If a person is satisfied with his performance, it means he has achieved the highest possible point and now the downfall will start.
The manager of Pakistan cricket team for the Zimbabwe tour Moin Khan on his return said he was satisfied with the teamís performance. It was no less shocking than the defeats Pakistan suffered in Zimbabwe. How can an important official be satisfied when the team played a draw series against a team that had no ranking before the series? 

Follies and hopes
PFFís decision to remove Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic at a time when the team was about to leave for Nepal was unwise
By Alam Zeb Safi

As expected Pakistanís football team once again failed to advance beyond the group stage in the SAFF Cup, which was ultimately won by Afghanistan, who beat six-time champions India 2-0 in the final in Kathmandu. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cricketing melee
By Azhar Hameed
The PCB

hierarchy and the cricketing fraternity all over Pakistan must make a concerted resolve to revive the moribund state of Pakistan cricket in general and more specifically engineer some constructive measures for the national team

In the aftermath of Pakistanís Test defeat in Zimbabwe, there has been a rumpus of all sorts. I can draw an interesting analogy whereby I am reminded of my sailing days ó at anchorages with high tides, depending upon the sea state, one would only get to see the floating ships and channel marker buoys but as the tides ebbed there would be scenes of ship wrecks, flotsam and jetsam. A perfect phenomenon of a visibly serene state turning into a wretched sight!

In relation to cricket, thatís the difference between winning ways and losing streaks. The present Pakistan cricket team has always had its problems but as long as it was winning, these problems remained embedded and only came to fore when it started to lose on a consistent basis. I have always believed that any two competing teams would be termed favourites or underdogs as long as the comparison is restricted to a piece of paper. Once they take to playing field, itís the one who plays better and carries the day. So the best or the worst on a given day can change places based on their performance displayed on the ground.

So what is it that has essentially gone so horribly wrong that Pakistan cricket has touched its nadir (I sincerely hope so)? After all this was more or less the same team which had a successful tour of India only some months back and the head coach, bowling coach and fielding coach were and are still the same. Have the batsman especially the top half forgotten the basics of batting?

Has the batting decay at the top become contagious and would permeate the middle order? Why our bowlers are made to look ordinary against players of limited ability and international exposure? These are some of the questions which are agitating the minds of every Pakistani who follows cricket.

To add more commotion to this chaotic situation, endless debates have started which range from the issues of captaincy, internal team strife, nepotism and to faulty team selection and management.

I think we are definitely missing a point here and that is to remain focused on the core issues rather than letting our emotions and biases get To begin with there has been no international cricket in Pakistan from late 2009 onwards. Since then Pakistan team has been playing even the international home series cricket under the ICC calendar outside Pakistan. Most of the players have never had any exposure to county cricket and even in the shorter formats, they have had limited access. Internally, the domestic cricket structures both long and short formats are not competitive enough to groom players to become battle-hardened for any international series outside Pakistan. This stark reality points towards a glaring shortcoming and that is the lack of development of mental strength or even if it exists in certain players it is surely to get dented once they go outside to represent Pakistan. So what is mental strength and why it is quintessential to all the players of the team?

There are many definitions for mental strength or toughness in the academic world but the one I like and comes very close to my understanding is: ďMental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to: generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands (competition, training, lifestyle) that sport places on a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure.Ē

The important thing to note is that it is a developed skill which can be attained through competition, training and lifestyle. Now if we closely analyze the performance of present Pakistan team against these three core elements namely; competition, training and lifestyle over the recent three or four tours then surely we would see a pattern developing. Players like Misbah, Younis and Saeed Ajmal have consistently outperformed others or at least they have been consistent with their performances. I need not carry out a clinical dissection of the performance of the rest of the players against the above core elements as the intention here is to serve pointers towards a more rational and logical approach in finding solutions for problems being faced by the present Pakistan players.

Living in a country which is battered by terrorism, precariously placed economically and deprived of any international sporting event of some semblance, I think we need to take a step back and give some leeway to our boys. After all they have been responsible for bringing some joyful moments for the whole nation. The present chairman, the coaches, the cricketing heavy weights in the PCB hierarchy and the cricketing fraternity all over Pakistan must make a concerted resolve to revive the moribund state of Pakistan cricket in general and more specifically, engineer some constructive measures for the Pakistan team.

Perhaps they should be provided the support of a sports psychologist or may be attached to the Alpine Club of Pakistan for a short expedition. Mind you my list of ideas is by no means exhaustive. What I want to iron out over here is that in times of sheer dismay and hopelessness there are always vibes of opportunities which would only resonate when we are able to spot them and tune them to our advantage otherwise the whole debate about the state of present Pakistan team would be nothing else than just a cricketing melee without a ring fence.

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The shame of Harare and Mohali
Pakistan is paying the price for a systematic massacre of talent which has enabled mediocrity to creep in on the field
By Sohaib Alvi

The quality of cricket, the body language and the lack of determination that was on display by Pakistan in Harare and Faisalabad Wolves in Mohali is not shocking; it is earth shattering. I have been said to be overcritical over the last few years in fact right up to 2004-05 when favoritism started to creep in and dirty politics began to be played in selection of teams. Not that it hadnít existed before but it was now coming out blatantly, and being done when we had little comparable talent to replace the ones who were victims of the targeted operation.

But there were sacred cows then too and even chairmen of PCB did not dare touch them. Well, weíre paying the price for it now as I had anticipated. World Cup 2007 should have been not just a wake-up call but a fire alarm; yet it was turned into more of a practice run and things returned to their normal self with friendship groupings, open biases and a consolidation of trenches across the cricket field.

The tour of Australia brought it out clearly. Mohammad Yousuf the captain on that tour said Intikhab Alam, the manager, had told him to beware of Shoaib Malik. Earlier Yousuf had brought together some five players to swear that if one was dropped the rest would make themselves unavailable or play under par to get rid of Younis Khan.

All this is documented in the videos that were leaked after the Australian tour. Shoaib Malik has been spoken of as a termite and when it came to Younis Khan, what he said was deemed not to be recorded. Manager Yawar Saeed is said to have arranged a meeting between Chairman PCB and Shahid Afridi to talk openly about the flaws of the then captain. In the videos that were leaked Yousuf is seen to be telling Yawar Saeed that he was in the hotel room when the players were talking of loyalty to each other and implying he was part of it.

Naturally, this would embolden the players because the officials were clearly part of the conspiracy and back biting. It was as if the cricket team was a stock exchange and these were the investors, manipulating to ensure that the stock they had invested in kept rising.

Mediocrity crept in on the field and the truly talented were pushed aside if they were not part of the system. Asim Kamal with some seven fifties in 12 Tests including one which he scored with a plastered left hand and a 99 on debut against South African pacers, was shunted out by Inzamam. It was pathetic the way he was sidelined but chairman Sheheryar Khan and the selectors stood still.

But when it came to superstars who could get influential people to end the tenure of senior officials in the PCB if they were dropped, the same officials would, and still, stand by a pathetic record and talk of indispensability, seniority, experience and all that. Imagine the PCB chief going out of the way to protect Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from the drug accusation just because they were big names and just had to be rescued. Orders are orders he would say.

Well, when players are going to be selected on likes and dislikes, or on pressures from outside (Sadiq Mohammad admitted on Geo Super what I had said several times before, and that is that politicians interfere in the selection process), you are going to get mediocrity on the field. The talented ones will just wither out and lose faith in the system. People like Khurram Shahzad and Yasir Hameed are called in when the chips are totally down and they have showed up with so many runs. But one failure, at most two, and they are sent to the gallows for the Ďexperiencedí guys like Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal to be brought back.

The justification is simple. Talent is finished they claim. There are no better replacements out there. Lack of international cricket has killed enthusiasm (yeah sure, just as it did South African talent from 1970 to 1992 I suppose when they returned to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup on their first appearance after the ban).

These are just excuses put forward to justify that the officials are doing all they can; that it is the talent that is not there. Well, how many talented cricketers have come through without their talent being honed, without opportunities, without a strategy?

The fast bowlers are deliberately played with, in on one tour and out the other. In the last few years we have seen Cheema, Ehsan Adil, Rahat, Wahab, Tanveer, Asad Ali try and step in. Some are clearly mediocre by international standards where consistency of speed and line and length is essential, but others like Tanveer did well in their debut series against quality opposition. Yet they were Ďrestedí when they were just establishing their place. Rahat has come and taken a few wickets but once when South Africa were hitting out for a declaration and next against Zimbabwe calibre batsmen that too in one of four innings.

Look if you have to play Rahat then all I request is to play him for a year; same with Tanveer or Ehsan Adil or whoever it is that the sharp eyes of the front selectors and the more influential ones at the back deem to be the future.

On the batting front the question is whether Hafeez will be dropped after an average of 7 in ten Test innings this year or will he shout and argue his way back into the team. There will in all likelihood be cries for Ďexperienceí against South Africa and the extra advantage of bowling off spin. But there will be no talk of perhaps another capable youngster who can bat and can also bowl pretty well. After all, Hafeez didnít come in as an all-rounder when he debuted against Bangladesh in 2003. And how often have we needed him to bowl in a test match when we have Ajmal and Rehman. 

The PCB caretaker chairman will continue to cry hoarse that he is not being given the powers after he has been illegally appointed to the post and that his powers are limited by the PCB constitution, not the judiciary. But I would be the first to support him if he were to commit not just in words but in deed that merit and only merit would come up and that the next three years would see the same at first-class level. And that the PCB would be purged of officials eating the board like termites. Intikhab Alam would understand what Iím talking about.

Sohaib121&gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kept out unjustly
There is a serious lack of consistency when it comes to team selection
By Mushfiq Ahmad

Wily leg-spinner Abdur Rehman once again proved his worth in the Test series against Zimbabwe. He took nine wickets in two matches, at a very healthy average of 19.88. He was the third highest wicket-taker after Saeed Ajmal and TL Chatara.

Rehman has been very unfortunate in that he has been given much less chances than were his due. He made his debut in 2007 against South Africa at Karachi. But he has played only 19 matches so far ó in six long years. This despite the fact that he has a very impressive wickets per match average of 4.73, better than all the fast bowlers who were given chances only because the team management did not want to have a second specialist spinner in the team.

Similar is the case with him in the limited-overs cricket. He has played only 28 ODIs and seven T201s, although he has taken 29 and 11 wickets, respectively, in these formats.

The selectors have been choosing him and sending him on tours but the team management has mostly decided to keep him on the bench. He must be given more chances in all three formats of the game. In fact he should be an obvious choice since he has never performed poorly in the last three years. He has always been an economical bowler.

Similar is the case of Azhar Ali as far as ODIs are concerned. He has played only 14 matches since his debut in May 2011, although he has a very healthy average of 41 runs ó higher than his average in Test cricket where he has never missed a match since making his debut against Australia in 2010 summer, which may be a record in Pakistan cricket. Cricket statisticians must check this. I donít think anybody else has played 29 straight Tests for Pakistan.

And the selectors have been very generous with Umar Amin. He has played 17 matches across all formats for Pakistan and has just one half century to his credit ó made in the recent ODI series against Zimbabwe. He was given four Test chances in 2010 despite failing to score more than 33 in any of his eight innings. He made 99 runs at an average of 12 runs.

In ODIs and T20Is he has averages of 21 and 22, respectively. But he keeps getting in the team while many others, certainly much more talented than him, continue to get ignored.

Why is it that the selectors are generous with some players and miserly with others? Players like Abdur Rehman and Azhar Ali are ousted despite good performances, while failures like Umar Amin keep getting chances after chances.

Then there is the case of Asad Shafiq. He was good, consistent for his initial two yeas in international cricket. But he has not made a big score for a long time now. He has a below-par average of 27 runs in ODIs, but he still finds a place in the team for this format. Had he been an all rounder like Mohammad Hafeez, his selection with this average could have been justified, but he is not. He is only a batsman and this average is not good enough for a specialist batsman.

It is time the selectors gave chances to those middle order batsmen who have been doing well in the domestic cricket and let Asad and Umar Amin improve their techniques and temperament.

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Pakistan hockey: past, present and future
Several much-needed steps should be taken without wasting any time if we want our national game to bounce back following a series of debacles
By Shahnaz Sheikh

Former Olympian

Pakistan made its mark in the realm of hockey soon after Independence, by showing the same intensity which was seen in the struggle for freedom. The purpose was to assert a distinctive identity as a nation.

In 1948, lack of facilities and adverse conditions could not deter our bare-footed players from marching on the path of victory. We fought tooth and nail like soldiers.

In 1960 an epoch-making event was waiting for the Pakistan hockey team. We were up against our traditional rivals India, the then seven-time Olympic champions.

The air was charged with emotions. After a fierce fight the Green-shirts emerged as the new champions, snatching the Olympic gold medal from the clutches of the neighbours.

Our national flag fluttered over the horizon of international hockey. These indelible marks of zeal and zest are still fresh in mind. The airport where the team arrived was thronged by people overjoyed by the victory. The nation received its heroes with a lot of warmth.

The euphoria was not yet over when the tide of time turned about. The edifice of national hockey started crumbling. The cause was the utter negligence shown in keeping abreast of the emerging techniques in the world.

A consequence of it was the victory of Germany in 1972 Olympics. At that critical juncture, the necessity to promote the Asian style hockey with new environment was felt by the stalwarts of hockey. India, Pakistan and other Asian teams were encouraged to stop the growing influence of the European hockey.

The international hockey scenario witnessed some radical changes. The rules of hockey were twisted by the European pundits to serve their ends. But our bigwigs took little notice of the changing trends.

The Asians used to play with the help of closely-knit relationship of ball and stick. It was ripped apart by introducing a new rule. The rule was not a novelty but the revival of the original but discarded style of hit-and-run, beneficial only to the Europeans.

As a result, with the exception of the world cup of 1975, since 1964 India and Pakistan have not played a final against each other which used to be the case in the past.

The Europeans worked on their style persistently and achieved excellence which was our specialty a couple of decades back.

The structural changes in hockey were brought apparently in the name of making it more enthralling and exciting but in fact, European lobby was working to cripple the Asian style.

Whenever the changes failed to produce the desired results, the rules were changed arbitrarily, giving little chance to the Asians.

Asian hockey received another blow when artificial grass was introduced because it was not at all suitable to the weather conditions of the subcontinent. So the balance tilted in favour of European countries. Therefore, in the World Cup 1986 Pakistan and India managed 11th and 12th positions, respectively, but still our pundits did not realise the gravity of the situation.

Instead of adopting an analytical approach to pinpoint the loopholes and remove them, the organisers committed blunders after blunders. The people concerned were busy in dirty politics, so Pakistan hockey took a plunge. Research-oriented approach was ignored altogether, giving way to chaos and disarray. No concrete step was taken.

Similarly, the present PHF leadership has been given a freehand, but our hockey has been on a downward spiral for the last five years. The eighth world ranking is the lowest ever for Pakistan. This is the result after the PHF was given about Rs90 million.

The humiliating results achieved in the World Hockey League and the Asia Cup were not unforeseen.

The nation has also not forgotten that Pakistan finished at the 12th position, out of 12 teams, in World Cup 2012.

The latest episode of failing to qualify for the World Cup 2014 and exclusion from the Commonwealth Games has also no precedent in our hockey history.

The recent resignation by Asif Bajwa as secretary PHF seems to be a calculated move. The whole federation should have resigned after the pathetic performances.

Meanwhile, the following areas need immediate attention.

1.       We have to keep ourselves abreast of modern techniques by working within the system.

2.       We have to prepare a team of professional and skillful coaches.

3.       We have to devise a methodology to groom new talent.

4.       We have to infuse maturity in players.

Whereas pre-1980 period is reckoned as the golden era, the period from 1986 till today may be conversely termed as ďthe dark period of despondencyĒ.

We always resorted to ad-hocism, frequent changes of captains, coaches and managers, which led to chaos.

It is said that gold is forever, it never loses its significance and luster but the secret of its perpetuity lies in its malleability.

Pakistan hockey was glittering like gold in the beginning, but it did not embrace change and lacked adaptability and flexibility of attitude. Had we been flexible, compatible and vigilant, we would not have plunged into the abyss of anonymity.

Gone are the days when the Europeans remained on the defensive due to our attacking stance and commanding position. Gone are the days when the heartbeats of our people were synchronised with the exciting moment of our national game.

Now defeat is accepted as a routine matter. This sends an SOS call to those controlling our hockey.

It is the call of the hour:

1.       to synchronise (harmonise) techniques with tactical theory;

2.       to modify the system according to the new conditions;

3.       to achieve perfection on basic skills; 

4.       to lay emphasis on organised attack in place of individual attack;

5.       to bring the point home to the attackers that receiving of every ball does not necessarily herald on attack;

6.       to adjust our defense players with rules of no-man off-side, man-to-man zone/area marking;

7.       and to keep in view the concept of ďultimate total resultĒ instead of only more results.

With the introduction of new rules in hockey the maneuvering area has been automatically stretched within the field and the following three points are key to victory: handling of ball; off the ball movement; and bad ball watching.

These steps must come at the earliest to ensure a better tomorrow for our failing hockey.

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Pitiful performances
If the senior management is satisfied with the teamís performance then why should the players worry about anything?
By Khurram Mahmood

If a person is satisfied with his performance, it means he has achieved the highest possible point and now the downfall will start.

The manager of Pakistan cricket team for the Zimbabwe tour Moin Khan on his return said he was satisfied with the teamís performance. It was no less shocking than the defeats Pakistan suffered in Zimbabwe. How can an important official be satisfied when the team played a draw series against a team that had no ranking before the series?

The caretaker PCB chairman Najam Sethi also showed no compunction over Pakistanís defeats in Zimbabwe. He said that the highs and lows in cricket shouldnít cause such uproar. If the management is satisfied with the teamís performance, why should the boys worry about anything? How would they try to improve their skills?

This was a series in which sponsors were not interested. Zimbabwe Cricket Board failed to find a main sponsor for the series and two Pakistani companies sponsored the series. The reason was simple: the sponsors expected that it would be a one-sided contest.

On paper Pakistan looked much better and more experienced side.

On the other side, there was little international experience.

Zimbabwe surprised the Pakistan team with their disciplined performance, especially in bowling.

Pakistan won the Twenty20 matches by a very close margin. Then Zimbabwe shocked Pakistan in the first One-day International, winning it by seven wickets. The hosts reached the modest target of 245 for the loss of just three wickets.

Experts and Pakistani fans expected that Pakistan would win both Test matches convincingly, but young Zimbabweans showed their skills in Test matches too.

The hosts kept control of the first Test till Day 3, taking a valuable 78 runs lead in the first innings. Then they reduced Pakistan to 3-23 in the second innings. Had it not been for Younis Khanís 200 Pakistan might have lost the first Test too. Zimbabwe deserve all the credit for keeping Pakistan under pressure through out the series.

The last time Zimbabwe won a Test against a team other than Bangladesh was in June 2001 when they beat India at Harare.

But the win against Pakistan was more memorable as there was no big name in the Zimbabwean side. The side that had beaten India had the Flower brothers, Guy Whittall, Heath Streak, Henry Olonga, Neil Johnson and Murray Goodwin.

Since then Zimbabwe had failed to beat any side other than Bangladesh and suffered regular defeats in all formats of the game. Zimbabwe lost 30 Tests out of the 40 they played.

Pakistanís defeat can be attributed to a lack of Test match experience, especially on home ground.

The demand for removing the senior players is unjustified though. The team should be a combination of experienced and young players. Why does Misbah always get blamed for losses despite scoring regularly? Why donít the people blame other young players who are not proving themselves after getting regular chances? They donít have the guts to stay on the pitch and support Misbah.

If Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq are excluded from the team, the team wonít be able to score even 200 runs. The combined total (187) of the other three leading batsmen in the Test series ó Mohammad Hafeez (59), Azhar Ali (85) and Asad Shafiq (43) ó doesnít even equal Misbahís individual score.

Misbah was the second highest run-getter of the series with 217 runs, including three fifties in four innings.

Younis was the top scorer with 309 runs at an average of 103, including one double hundred and one fifty.

Younis Khan with 464 runs at an average of 58.00 in five Tests is the top run-getter for Pakistan in Tests in 2013 so far.

Hafeez is not a suitable player for the longest format of the game. He is good enough for ODIs and T20Is, but not for Tests. He fails often against strong bowling attacks. This time he failed even against a mediocre pace attack.

His batting average in last 14 Tests outside Asia is only 20.80, which is obviously not expected of a batsman who bats at the top of the order.

Azhar scored only 218 runs at an average of just 21.8 in five Tests he played in 2013.

In five matches Asad scored 242 runs with one hundred and one fifty, averaging only 24.2.

His last 20 plus score came in February 2013 against South Africa. Average in the 20s from the middle order will not help Pakistan beat any top-ranked side.

Instead of improving Pakistan team is getting worse day by day and if batting skills are not improved a whitewash is on the cards against No 1 Test ranked South Africa in the forthcoming series.

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Follies and hopes
PFFís decision to remove Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic at a time when the team was about to leave for Nepal was unwise
By Alam Zeb Safi

As expected Pakistanís football team once again failed to advance beyond the group stage in the SAFF Cup, which was ultimately won by Afghanistan, who beat six-time champions India 2-0 in the final in Kathmandu.

After losing to arch-rivals India 0-1, Pakistan held Nepal 1-1 before beating Bangladesh 2-1 in the last match. Both India and Pakistan had the same number of points and goal-average after the group stage, but India made it to the semi-finals because they had beaten Pakistan in their opener.

In the 2011 SAFF Cup, too, Pakistan had failed to qualify for the semi-finals after holding all their three group opponents to draws.

This time the Samar Ishaq-led team exited with a single win. Several pre-tournament decisions by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) affected the teamís performance in Nepal. Just an hour after Pakistan lost to Afghanistan 3-0 in a friendly in Kabul on August 20, PFF removed not only Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic but also goalkeeping coach Aslam Khan from the Kathmandu-bound party.

Assistant coach Shehzad Anwar, who before this event had acted as Pakistan coach for only a single international against Malaysia in October 2008, was made the head coach.

The newly-hired Bahraini coach Mohamed Shamlan was sent with the team as a consultant. The Bahraini did a fine job while remaining in the background by guiding Shehzad Anwar, who despite being so young showed real guts as a coach.

The confidence which Shehzad showed can be a plus point for Pakistan. If he is groomed with Shamlan he can turn out to be a precious asset.

But PFFís decision to remove Zavisa at a time when the team was about to leave for Nepal was not praiseworthy.

Zavisa could have performed better had he been given the opportunity. Pakistanís defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in the friendly was not something necessitating his removal because Pakistan were missing their five key foreign-based players in that match and the Afghans were the regionís best side, which they proved by lifting their maiden SAFF tile.

If the PFF wanted to remove Zavisa he should have been sacked when Pakistan had failed to impress in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan early this year.

According to sources, when Pakistani team was doing warm-up just before the start of their friendly against Afghanistan in Kabul, a top official of the PFF called the teamís physiotherapist Dr Kamran Mehdi. The official told Kamran that he would like to talk to Zavisa but the Serbian, while feeling it against the rules, refused to talk to the official.

Sources said that Zavisaís attitude infuriated the PFF top official and he abruptly sacked Zavisa after his side lost to the Afghans.

Zavisa has not yet been released by the PFF. He is working with the Pakistan Under-19 team in Lahore.

The removal of the goalkeeping coach Aslam was even more unexpected. Aslam, who has a great role in preparing Pakistanís top goalkeepers, including Jaffar Khan, was doing a good job. The team missed him during the SAFF Cup when the Denmark-based gloveman Yousuf Butt made a silly mistake against Nepal. This harmed Pakistan a lot.

Goalkeeping coach is an integral part of a team as other coaching staff does not know much about it. According to sources, there are a few persons in the PFF who donít like to see Aslam with the team. It was pre-planned that both Zavisa and Aslam should be removed, they said.

Former Fulham defender Zeeshan Rehman was very impressive in the deep in the SAFF Cup.

Skipper Samar Ishaq, whose own goal during the match against India caused Pakistanís ouster from the tournament eventually, also helped the team a lot with his nice defence work.

Danish striker Hasan Bashir, midfielder Mohammad Riaz, the countryís key striker Kaleemullah and defender Mohammad Ahmed also looked good.

The PFF had not given sufficient international exposure to the team which was direly needed for proper preparation.

There is no consistency in the planning of the PFF. Pakistan senior team played only a single international game from December 2011 to November 2012. How can a team improve without enough exposure? There should be at least 15 to 20 international matches in a year.

Now the reins of the team are in the hands of Shamlan, who has been hired by the PFF for a couple of years with the blessings of the Bahrain Football Association (BFA).

Shamlan, a former international defender, is the right choice for the job as he is well aware of Pakistanís football. He worked with former Pakistan coach Salman Sharida in 2005-2006.

He would develop the team well if given free hand. The PFF should meet all his demands in this regard.

These days he is witnessing Premier League matches and is short-listing players for training. There are chances that he may find good stuff for future. Shamlan wants to impart quality training to Pakistan and it is expected that he will hold national teamís camps in the Gulf region.

The PFF should utilise the services of Shamlan in the best possible manner and should also groom local coaches under him so that a healthy pool of coaches is prepared for future.

 [email protected]

 

 


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