Head Coach José Antonio Nogueira who has taken over the reins of Pakistan Football Team after their long absence from International Football has set his focus to catch up with India in next 2-3 years and “overtake them (India) to claim the pole position in the SAFF region”.
“Undoubtedly, India are the numero uno in the region. Coming back from a 3-year long hiatus, we are nowhere close to them. My first target is to close the gap in the next 2-3 years. We’ll then set the target to conquer the region,” Nogueira said in an exclusive chat.
Pakistan meet India in the semifinals of the SAFF Cup on Wednesday, September 12 and Nogueira said that the team is eagerly looking forward to the match.
“It will be a great experience for me and my team when we play India in the semis,” Nogueira, who has earlier coached Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and St. Kitts & Nevis, smiles.
“We will gain some invaluable experience from those 90 minutes. India have achieved some major feats to reach the next level. I feel the experience which India gather playing against the opponents like Japan or maybe a South Korea, we’ll get against them (India).”
The coach seemed to follow Indian Football very closely and described the exposure tours to the Indian age-group National Teams as a “very positive development”.
“India have laid down a blueprint and have worked relentlessly so far to execute it. Before the FIFA U17 World Cup, the team had travelled to Brazil for an exposure trip. Even the World Cup was so immaculately conducted,” he opined.
“Arranging exposure trips for the age-group teams, playing quality opponents often are some of the good things which have happened to Indian Football recently. The upsurge in the FIFA Ranking is the perfect synergy of these efforts,” he maintained.
How much challenging is your present job?
“I knew this job will be a very challenging one but as a coach, it’s my duty to accept it. It was like of coming out from zero and restarting the system. Building a National team is not a magic. But the players have responded well so far.”
“We had the PFF Cup and 65 players were selected from there. Since then, we shortlisted 32 and flew to Jakarta to compete in the Asian Games. We had some really tough games against Japan, Vietnam before landing here,” he informed.