LAHORE, Pakistan / Punjab (AFP) – Pakistan Thursday appointed Bahrain's Mohammed Shamlan as their new coach to change the dwindling fortunes of their national team which lost to neighbouring Afghanistan in a historic match this week.
Shamlan -- who has been donated by Bahrain free of charge -- will replace Pakistan's Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic who is to be released after his two-year contract expires in November.
Pakistan's preparations for this month's South Asian Football Federation Cup (SAFF) were badly hit after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Afghanistan, their first match in the war-ravaged country since 1977.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi said Shamlan is a gift to Pakistan from Bahrain.
"Since Bahrain is a friendly country and PFF has good relations with Bahrain's federation, we have been given their coach free of cost," Lodhi said at a press conference.
Pakistan will face arch-rivals India in their opening match of the SAFF Cup to be held in Nepal from August 31-September 11.
Besides Pakistan and India, Bangladesh and Nepal are in pool A, while Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan are placed in pool B.
Pakistan has had various foreign coaches but it was only Bahrain's Salman Sharida who lifted the standard of the team in 2005 and 2006.
Shamlan, who acted as deputy to Sharida during his Pakistan stint, said he will do his best to improve the team.
"When I was here a few years back I was able to get close to the players. I know them and will try to improve their rankings," said Shamlan.
Pakistan were a major force at the Asian level in the 1950s and 60s but lack of government support and facilities has resulted in the team slumping badly. They are currently ranked as low as 167 in the FIFA rankings.