KARACHI, Dec 18: Following dismal performances by Pakistan in World Cup pre-qualifying games, soccer officials on Thursday named Wang Xiao He of China as new national team coach.
“We have appointed Xiao the team coach who will be assisted by two local coaches during the SAF Games training camp in Lahore,” Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Arshad Lodhi said.
PFF official said the Chinese had been associated with Pakistan Army football team and he had been recommended by army officials for the national side.
“He (Xiao) has been recommended by army officials who said he is a fine coach and had been attached with army squad for quite a long time,” official said.
Xiao is not a new soccer figure in Pakistan as he has staged a comeback as national coach after leading Pakistan to the victory podium for a gold medal at 1989 SAF Games in Islamabad.
His appointment came after coach Tariq Lutfi’s side lost 2-0 to Kyrgyzstan at home and were thrashed 4-0 away in Bishkek before being hurled out of contention for a berth in World Cup qualifying round.
Tariq, who has earned fame by giving controversial statements rather than fine performances, was given the assignment earlier this year soon after the foreign coaches left when Asian Football Confederation (AFC) abolished its development programme late last year.
Under Tariq, Pakistan lost to tiny Maldives 1-0 in SAFF Gold Cup semifinal in January in Bangladesh before losing to arch- rivals India 2-1 in playoff to finish fourth in the regional contest.
At the Asian championship qualifiers in Singapore in March, Tariq’s team could not qualify for the main round as it miserably failed to deliver when it was blanked 3-0 out by hosts.
Arshad said the Chinese would also prepare the national side which was scheduled to play Turkish giants Besiktas on Jan 8 in Islamabad.
The PFF secretary said the training camp had started in Lahore from Wednesday with Chowdhry Rasheed acting as the camp commandant, but refrained from disclosing the names of the local coaches supervising the camp.
Arshad said he would be leaving for Islamabad to meet president of the PFF Faisal Saleh Hayat to discuss various matters including the appointment of assistant coaches.
“Besides various matters, we will also finalize the names of the local coaches who will assist the Chinese coach,” he said.
Arshad said although PFF had received the team manager’s report on matches against Kyrgyzstan and Tariq’s statement after 2-0 loss against the central Asian state, he did not reveal the contents of the report, saying he had not read it.
“The matter regarding Tariq’s statement will also come under discussion and it will be ‘resolved’ after tomorrow’s meeting with the president. The decisions will be made public after that meeting,” official said.