FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers: Zavisa sheds light on importance of league for Pakistan

He served Pakistan as head coach way back in 2011-2013

March 30, 2024
Zavisa Milosavljevic. - PFF

LAHORE: Highlighting the importance of Pakistan Premier League, Pakistan football team former Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic has said that without a super league it is not easy to extract the maximum potential of all the available lot.

“It is very difficult to extract the maximum potential of all available players from the country and abroad without a domestic super league,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ in an interview from Serbia. 

Zavisa’s views were sought by this correspondent following Pakistan’s pathetic display in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, especially in their last game against Jordan which the Green-shirts lost 7-0 at the Amman International Stadium the other night.

“In the absence of a super league the coach has only one solution left and that is to play only with players who play in foreign lower leagues,” Zavisa said. “It absolutely does not meet the criteria of a high-level competition. It is known that players from professional leagues play in the final qualifiers,” he said.

“During the competition season it is normal for the camp to last for seven to ten days because the players come from the competition and where they are already playing competitive matches in their clubs which means that they are in competitive shape,” Zavisa said.

“If the national team is preparing for the SAFF Cup, Asian event or World championship then a longer camp of about 30 days is required,” he was quick to add. “So when everything is taken into account the results achieved by Pakistan so far were expected,” Zavisa said.

However, he said that there is a way to enhance the performance of the elite side in the years to come. 

“Nevertheless there is a solution,” Zavisa said. “It is the formation of the youth leagues, the formation of the premier league and above all the education of a large number of professional coaches. When such a work system is established it is necessary to wait and be patient for at least four to six years,” Zavisa said.

“I must also say that I have offered cooperation to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik in forming the PFF working system according to all world standards and to put things in their proper place in Pakistan football,” he said.

“I am a very knowledgeable and experienced coach and I am ready to do a good job for the future of Pakistan football. It’s up to Haroon Malik to make a decision,” Zavisa concluded. 

Having served Pakistan as head coach way back in 2011-2013, Zavisa also served the country in a different way latter on.

When Zavisa was named as head coach of Kyrgyzstan’s top club Dordoi Bishkek in 2014 he opened the doors for top players of Pakistan to play in the Kyrgyzstan’s league. Diminutive midfielder Mohammad Adil, Kaleemullah and Saddam Hussain were hired and it also helped Dordoi Bishkek to eventually lift the Kyrgyzstan league trophy. Kaleemullah was the top scorer of the league with 18 goals to his credit.

Since this exposure it opened floodgates for more Pakistani footballers also who also then played leagues offshore. And Kaleemullah, the country’s finest striker, turned out to be a true professional afterwards as he also played leagues in the US, Turkey and Iraq before facing injuries which cut short his professional career.

Alam Zeb Safi is a senior reporter for The News