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English coach to continue with Pak football team: Haroon

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This image released on January 28, 2021, shows the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik. — Facebook/Pakistan football
This image released on January 28, 2021, shows the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik. — Facebook/Pakistan football

LAHORE: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik has confirmed that English coach Stephen Constantine will continue as Pakistan coach for the rest of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers games.

“Stephen Constantine has a good equation with the team so we will be continuing with Stephen and inshaAllah we will continue with him for the June games as well,” Haroon told The News in an interview.

“We have talked to Stephen and he is ready,” he was quick to add. It was Stephen under whose coaching Pakistan created history last year when they qualified for the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers by beating Cambodia 1-0 on aggregate in their first round.

“We are also in contact with all players, both homegrown and overseas,” he said. Asked when NC is going to hold the camp as Pakistan-Jordan game is just around the corner on March 21, Haroon said that the camp will be held on time.

“InshaAllah the camp will be organised on time,” he said. “There are a few prerequisites for organising the camp. The first is where the match will be held. Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) had committed that it would install lights, seats, would improve the condition of the Jinnah Stadium but it’s quite unfortunate that not only nothing has been done but deterioration has been seen,” he said.

“When the AFC inspector comes we have no idea what will happen. There are no lights, seats and changing rooms glasses are broken,” he claimed. “Then we built dugouts of flexy glass which are broken. So, all these things still need to be resolved,” he said.

“A kabaddi event is being held on that pitch,” Haroon said. Told that NC does not have time at its disposal for the camp as Pakistan will meet Jordan on March 21, Haroon said that these questions should be directed at the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). “You should ask these questions from the PSB,” he said.

Asked about any plan B if Jinnah Stadium is not ready, Haroon said: “Let’s finalise these things with the PSB and then we will decide. “In spite of not having lights we have submitted Pakistan as venue for the home game against Jordan,” Haroon said.

“I want Pakistan to host its every home game on its own turf because fans deserve this,” he said. “We have submitted the venue and I assume that there is issue of lights and in the day-light the match can be held and having visited the venue I am not sure whether AFC will allow this game to be held in Pakistan or not,” Haroon said.

“Tell me how this decision of holding a kabaddi event on the turf which will host Pakistan-Jordan game can be made,” Haroon questioned. “There is zero communication between the NC and the PSB. Just 15 minutes ago we talked to the Board and I don’t know what they are saying. My job is not to prove the things to you. But we can show you so many letters which we have written to the PSB. And for the last four days PSB have received seven letters from us. In the last one month PSB received 30 letters from us,” Haroon said.

“I am not satisfied at all. We can share with you some of the footages from the scene also. It’s a fact that kabaddi event has damaged the pitch further,” he said. Asked why he does not shift this game offshore if he is not satisfied with the condition of the pitch of the Jinnah Stadium, Haroon said they have confirmed Pakistan as a venue.

“Initially there was issue of lights and we decided to hold the game in the daylight. But now we have seen the venue where not only the changing rooms glasses are broken but the pitch has been damaged due to the kabaddi event and now we will sit and decide what to do,” Haroon said.

Asked why they don’t hold the camp at Lahore, Haroon paused and said they will now take a decision. “It’s possible to hold the camp at Lahore, its possible to hold it at other locations,” he said.

Asked what will be the offshore venue in case the match is not possible in Islamabad Haroon said that no decision has been taken as yet. “We have many options but there is no final decision till I have spoken to the AFC,” he said.

“We will hold the camp at the earliest and we are talking to the PSB also and we have options open; let’s see what happens,” he said. Asked whether NC’s audit has stuck, Haroon said that it was not the case. When pressed that FIFA is not doing NC’s audit he said, “no.”

Asked about chances of inducting former Pakistan captain Saddam Hussain in the team for the home game against Jordan, Haroon said that he does not select the team. After hosting Jordan on March 21, Pakistan will face the same oppositions in Jordan before playing their last home game against Saudi Arabia and away game against Tajikistan in June.

Pakistan have already tasted 4-0 and 6-1 defeats in their initial two matches of the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan in November respectively.

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