A Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) official told Dawn on Wednesday “We are quite confident that Vision 2020 for game development will see us playing at the Olympic Games and Vision 2022 will place us in the FIFA World Cup if the PFF's focus remains on development at the grass-root level of the game.”
The Pakistan football squad lost a chance to feature in the FIFA World Cup 2010 when they lost to Iraq 0-7 in the Asian preliminary qualification round.
Football was first brought to the Indian subcontinent by British soldiers in the 19th century but Pakistan, like India, has never been able to achieve much success in the sport.
Pakistan is currently ranked 165th on the FIFA world ranking table in the game, out of 202 playing nations of the world.
The official said “There are 850 regular players featuring in two leagues — Pakistan Premier League ('A' division) and PFF League ('B' division). We are also planning to hold a 'C' division league for strengthening the game further at the districts and divisions level.”
According to the official, around 35 national coaching centres besides 1,572 registered football clubs here were producing a better generation of young footballers and the number of regular players is expected to increase in a decade's time.
“If the juniors continue to work hard and our qualification of local coaches is enhanced further, the PFF is quite confident to feature the national team in mega FIFA events,” he said.
Replying to a question, the PFF official said “Vision 2020 for the Olympics is designed to enable us to qualify for the premier sports event with the strategy of the federation remaining the same, i.e., uplifting sports at the district and division levels.
“The youth will remain our driving force as it is they who will confirm Pakistan's place in the FIFA World Cup 12 years from now.”