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Hanif takes over as new Pak coach


KARACHI: Pakistan’s hockey authorities on Wednesday abolished the national selection committee and installed former Olympian Hanif Khan as new coach in the aftermath of the country’s disappointing showing at London 2012 Olympic Games last August.


However, Akhtar Rasool — the former Pakistan captain who was national team’s head coach and manager — has been retained till the 2014 World Cup to be hosted by the Netherlands.


Khawaja Junaid, Pakistan’s coach at London Games and his assistant Shahid Ali Khan were axed from the team management ahead of this year’s Champions Trophy in Australia. Pakistan crashed to a seventh-place finish in London.


“We have taken these measures with an eye on the next World Cup,” Asif Bajwa, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary, told ‘The News’ following a meeting of the PHF Executive Board in Lahore.


Bajwa, a former Olympian, said that the decision to scrap the selection committee was taken to bring in more professionalism in Pakistan hockey.


“The truth is that the selection committee wasn’t serving much purpose,” said Bajwa. “When the team fails it’s the coaches who are blamed and there is no responsibility on the selectors. That’s why the Executive Board decided that there would be no selection committee from now on.”


With no selectors around, Pakistan’s coaches would be given a free hand to select teams for international assignments.


“That’s the way it is in major hockey-playing countries like Holland, Germany and Australia,” said Bajwa. “The coaches are allowed to pick best possible teams because they are the ones responsible for the results.”


This means that Akhtar Rasool and Hanif Khan would be responsible for selecting the Pakistan team which faces a tough assignment in Melbourne which would be hosting the Champions Trophy in December.


Bajwa, however, made it clear that PHF chiefs would keep checks and balances to make sure that the country’s best players represent it in international events.


“The Executive Board has entrusted PHF President with full powers to approve or disapprove any team selected by the coaches,” he said.


Speaking on the appointment of Hanif Khan, who was Pakistan’s chief selector, Bajwa said that the former national captain has vast experience and should prove beneficial for the team.


He was confident that together with Akhtar Rasool, Hanif would form a good team and that would produce positive results. “Hanif has played under Akhtar Rasool and both of them have a good understanding. In fact it was Akhtar who floated Hanif’s name for the job and the PHF decided to go for it,” he said.


Hanif, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the new team management that also includes former Pakistan captain Ahmed Alam as an assistant coach would help put Pakistan’s hockey team on the right path.


“Akhtar Rasool is a big player and knows about hockey. Ahmed Alam is also a good coach. We have a good team but we will need to deliver,” Hanif told ‘The News’.


“We have to focus on the players’ fitness, skills, stamina and coordination. The boys have ability but it’s the coaches’ job to bring the best out of them,” stressed Hanif.


Pakistan’s preliminary squad would assemble in Lahore on November 1 for a preparatory camp ahead of the Champions Trophy. Pakistan are scheduled to leave for Perth on November 19 to feature in a Nine-a-side hockey tournament. From Perth they would fly for Melbourne to compete in the Champions Trophy.