KARACHI: Hanif Khan rued his unceremonious exit as coach of the national team at a press conference in Karachi yesterday, calling his sacking by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) insulting and uncalled for.
Pakistan’s poor show at the Hockey World League (HWL) in Malaysia cost the Olympian his post, with the side finishing seventh to waste an opportunity to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
While Hanif was removed, the team’s manager and head coach Akhtar Rasool retained his position as it was deemed a positive for the squad. Tahir Zaman, who served as coaching consultant during the event, was promoted as coach in place of Hanif for the upcoming Asia Cup.
Hanif had initially replaced Khwaja Junaid following the London Olympics debacle last year. Under the Olympian, Pakistan won three medals — bronze at the nine-a-side hockey event and the FIH Champions Trophy in Australia, and a gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy.
Bearing his achievements in mind, Hanif was dejected as he addressed the press conference in regards to his axing.
“This PHF is not a place for an honourable person to work,” said the Olympian, who also worked as chief selector under the current set-up.
“The PHF has insulted and ridiculed my services for hockey by sacking me this way,” added Hanif, who has two Olympic medals under his belt including a gold medal at the 1984 Games.
“They should have informed me about their decision and I would have accepted it with an open heart. The way the PHF announced it without hearing my version is disrespectful to me.”
‘Not the only one to blame’
The sacked coach claimed he was not given a freehand during the HWL.
“Tahir took charge right from the start of the Abbottabad camp. I protested but Akhtar favoured him after which I maintained my silence.
“Tahir continued to strategise during the HWL games, and now they’re blaming me for the team’s failure.
“I already made up my mind to quit as coach by looking at the attitude of top PHF officials and informed my family about it. Interference caused problems during my work, but otherwise, I had a good run as the team won three consecutive medals.”
Hanif also alleged that Tahir had close links with a World Hockey Federation official, which was the reason for his promotion.
“I don’t have a personal vendetta against Tahir. He is a hardworking [man], but I feel he should have been confined to the junior team at this stage. However, I still wish him luck in his endeavour.”
Meanwhile, going against expectations, Hanif showed no signs of joining the Olympians’ campaign to remove the current PHF set-up.
“I am not the sort to do so and neither do I feel that the officials’ removal will boost hockey.
“My support will remain with the body, but I will never accept any managerial role in this set-up again.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.
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