KARACHI: The importance of the upcoming Asia Cup was made evident when the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) replaced Hanif Khan with Tahir Zaman as coach of the national team.
Changes in the team management had been expected ever since the team finished seventh at the eight-nation Hockey World League (HWL) in Malaysia, thereby failing to qualify for the World Cup.
However, the PHF showed faith in former captain Akhtar Rasool who was retained as manager and head coach.
Zaman is a qualified coach who travelled with the team to Malaysia as a consultant. It was reported that Hanif and Zaman had a difference of opinion in the game plan during the HWL after which both officials refused to work together.
‘Tough task ahead’
The major change has taken place at a crucial time when Pakistan face a must-win situation in the Asia Cup to qualify for next year’s World Cup in the Netherlands.
“Of course it’s an uphill task,” Zaman told The Express Tribune.
“It’s a challenge, but sometimes one has to think beyond his personal capacity and focus on national interest.
“I cannot shy away if I feel I am needed. I know the repercussions if the team is unable to qualify for the World Cup but I will give it a try.”
The coach denied a rift with Hanif. “He is my senior and I respect him. There is no truth to these reports.”
Meanwhile, Hanif was unhappy with the PHF’s decision.
“I will hold a press conference and will unveil the truth about my removal as coach. The federation itself doesn’t want hockey’s promotion.”
‘Team will bounce back’
The decision was announced by PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa at a press conference where he said that he hoped for a change in fortunes at next month’s Asia Cup.
“The team will bounce back,” said Bajwa who also praised Rasool’s role in the team.
“Rasool has a positive impact on players, so we have decided to retain him.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.
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