Pakistan hockey coaches resign after Beijing debacle

August 26th, 2008 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Aug 26 (IANS) Pakistan’s head coach Khawaja Zakauddin has resigned following his team’s poor showing in the Olympic Games hockey tournament in Beijing.Zaka, a former Olympian who took over as Pakistan’s manager and chief coach last year, “accepted the responsibility” for the Greenshirts’ unimpressive performance in Beijing and said that he has decided to quit.

Coach Naveed Alam, a former international, also followed suit after Pakistan stumbled to a disappointing eighth position - their worst-ever finish in Olympic history.

“I take the blame for my team’s disappointing performance in the Olympic Games,” Zaka told IANS following his arrival from Beijing.

“We did not play well in Beijing and for that all of us are responsible,” he added.

Three-time champions Pakistan made a poor start to their Olympic campaign in Beijing by losing to lower-rated Great Britain in the opening game and were never able to recover from that setback. They beat Canada and South Africa, but lost to defending champions Australia and Holland to go out of the race for the last-four stage.

Pakistan’s plight was worsened in the playoffs when they lost to New Zealand to finish eighth.

Their failure to finish among the top-six in Beijing means that Pakistan will not be able to feature in the 2009 Champions Trophy. It is a huge blow for the country that started the elite six-nation tournament in the early 1980s.

The government has decided to hold an inquiry into the Beijing debacle as the stage is set for sweeping changes in the national hockey setup.

The Sports Ministry replaced former secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Khalid Mehmood with Asif Bajwa just a few weeks before the Olympics. Now it is expected that Qasim Zia, a former Olympian and member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party will take over as the PHF president as the current federation chief Zafarullah Khan Jamali , a former Pakistan prime minister, is facing the axe in case he doesn’t resign.

The new PHF set-up is expected to name a fresh set of coaches within the next few weeks. Sources in the PHF said that there are also chances that Pakistan will make sweeping changes in their team as the national hockey fraternity is unhappy with the way their players performed in Beijing.

Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf said after his tam’s Beijing campaign that he didn’t receive solid support from some of the team’s senior players.

Pakistan’s sports bosses are also mulling the idea of appointing a foreign coach to help their hockey team get back on track. It was under Dutchman Hans Jorritsma that Pakistan won the 1994 World Cup in Sydney. Another Dutchman Roelant Oltmans coached Pakistan in 2004. Oltmans is currently the head coach of the Netherlands.

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