KARACHI: Newly-appointed Pakistan football team coach Jose Antonio Nogueira (C) is given a traditional welcome at the All Brothers Football Stadium on Wednesday.—UW
KARACHI: Newly-appointed Pakistan football team coach Jose Antonio Nogueira (C) is given a traditional welcome at the All Brothers Football Stadium on Wednesday.—UW

KARACHI: Jose Antonio Nogueira hasn’t lasted more than six months in any of his previous stints in-charge of a national team.

And despite having said on social media videos posted by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) over the last few days that he’s coming to make Pakistan the best team in Asia, the Brazilian probably drew on his past experiences and didn’t raise hopes of a radical transformation in his first interaction with local media since coming to the country.

The brief interaction with reporters wasn’t initially part of Nogueira’s agenda on the first day of his arrival in Pakistan.

The PFF had initially said the freshly-hired national team coach wouldn’t take questions at the All Brothers Football Stadium where he went to witness the National Challenge Cup match between National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Falcon FC. It said Nogeuira would speak to the media during a news conference in the coming days.

But having already announced that Nogueira would be coming to attend the match, the PFF eventually relented. There were some conditions though: the Brazilian shouldn’t be asked questions regarding the status of the PFF, about what his plans were for the national team or about the fact that his salary will come from the Bahrain Football Federation (BFF).

Nogueira exuded calm as he waited for the final go-ahead from the PFF to speak to reporters. And he was composed as he answered the questions, very much unlike his high-energy displays in those social media videos.

But so far he’s spoken little about football, his coaching philosophy or the way he wants to work.

Asked by Dawn if he believes he can take Pakistan to the top in Asia during his initial three-year contract, Nogueira said he needed time.

“This is the first step,” he said. “Give us time and let us work. We can do a good job.”

Time is of the essence for Nogueira however. Pakistan football has suffered due to three years of turmoil off the pitch and good results are needed immediately starting with the Asian Games in August and the SAFF Suzuki Cup the following month to boost the game in the country.

Good results there could probably see Nogueira lasting longer than he has with a national team before.

He was at the helm of St Kitts & Nevis from September 2011 to February 2012, at Guinea-Bissau for a similar period in 2006 and in 2003 with Sierra Leone, who let him go after the team failed to qualify for the 2004 African Cup of Nations.

This is probably his biggest challenge. He inherits a team placed 203 in the FIFA rankings and having not played a game in three years.

Yet Nogueira could be out of the job even before he takes charge of the national team. The crisis and controversy that has plagued the PFF is set to end with the Supreme Court having ordered fresh elections and if a new setup were to come in, they might bring a coach of their choice.

There have been accusations that Nogueira’s appointment has come because of his friendship with newly-appointed PFF technical director Shehzad Anwar.

Shehzad has made several trips to Brazil in the past for his attachment with a club for his AFC Pro-License and was one of the first appointments since the PFF of Faisal Saleh Hayat was reinstated by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in February. On his first day in Pakistan, Nogueira was constantly flanked by Shehzad.

Nogueira, meanwhile, said he was drawn to the Pakistan job because he’d previously worked at Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli where he was the head of their academy.

“It’s not my first time in Asia,” he said. “Arabs want to play football like Brazilians do and so do Pakistanis. I also had good relationship with the PFF before and it’s a good challenge here.

“I’m trying to be comfortable with the position and then make a plan with Shehzad and [PFF secretary] retired Col. Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi. First we need to study and put in order how we take it forward day by day and taking in regard the situation of Pakistan football. We need to rebuild football here.”

Pakistan football needs to be rebuilt but only time will tell if Nogueira is the right man to do that. Nogueira comes off as a man who could be better off as an administrator than a tactician. That’s what his CV says too.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2018

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