LAHORE: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) president Faisal Saleh Hayat has termed national team’s victory against Nepal at the ongoing Asian Games a bright omen for the country.

Pakistan beat Nepal 2-1 in the Indonesian town of Cikarang on Sunday after facing defeats at the hands of Japan (4-0) and Vietnam (3-0) at the Asian Games.

“While Japan and Vietnam are strong teams, enjoying 59 and 102 FIFA world ranking, respectively, no one should underestimate our team’s win against Nepal since they are also 40 positions ahead of Pakistan [in the rankings],” said Faisal while talking to reporters here at the FIFA House on Monday.

“Pakistan football was progressing, as we had beaten India and Afghanistan, before the ‘Qabza mafia’ in its lust to get control over the PFF totally ruined football in the country; as a result three precious years of our football were wasted.

“In March this year, we regained the control of PFF after a three-year tussle and rebuilt a new team for this high-level competition [Asian Games] which won against Nepal which is a good sign,” he added.

About PFF’s future programmes, he said an amendment would be made in the constitution to expand the Congress in compliance with the FIFA constitution.

“We are also going to set up academies across the country to pick teenage footballers and then shape them up for international contests. Moreover, FIFA will provide an 4G pitch to Pakistan to be laid in Khanewal,” he disclosed.

“We are also working on to introduce a high-profile [football] premier league of Pakistan; and intend to include two, three foreign players in each team of the league.”

To a question as to why Kaleemullah, one of the key Pakistan players who was not selected for the Asian Games since he was playing league in Turkey, Faisal defended the decision of team’s coach and trainer.

“Kaleemullah was invited to the [national] fitness camp where he failed to prove his fitness and did not look serious for selection, as after reporting at the camp next day he disappeared,” said Faisal.

“In Turkey, he is competing in the fifth-tier league which shows how much he has lost his skills and fitness.”

Interestingly, on the other hand, Kaleemullah in a recent statement has said that the PFF chief ousted him from the national team.

Whether the PFF, like the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), had any plan to award central contract to players, Faisal said it would depend on the financial strength of the national football federation.

He also appealed to the newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan to chalk up a plan under which the national sports federations could get easy access to sports infrastructure, without any interference of the bureaucracy.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2018

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