Coach accepts responsibility for Maldives fiasco

By Mohammad Yaqoob

LAHORE, June 9: The recently-sacked coach of the Pakistan football team Akhtar Mohiuddin, on Monday accepted responsibility for the team’s dismal performance in the SAFF Championship in the Maldives.

Speaking to Dawn, he suggested that the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) should bring in a foreign coach if it wanted to improve the game in the country.

“As head coach of the team I must take responsibility for the defeat and it is a general rule all over the world that coaches risk being dismissed for defeats.”

Under Akhtar’s coaching Pakistan lost all the three matches in the championship.

They first lost to Maldives 3-0, then India 2-1 and finally against a lowly-rated Nepal 4-1.

“In fact after returning from the last assignment in the Asian championship in Chinese Taipei I had advised the PFF to hire a foreign coach as the boys need to learn the modern techniques of the game,” he said.

“But I must add that my sacking should be followed by the appointment of a foreign coach, otherwise, it will be useless to bring another Pakistani coach,” he said.

Akhtar, however pointed out that despite the recent defeats in Maldives as well as the 7-1 rout by Sri Lanka in the Asian championship during his one year stint, the fact that the team drew against Asian champions Iraq 0-0 in the World Cup qualifying round in Syria and beat Chinese Taipei after 50-years and Guam 9-2 in the Asian championship were to his credit.

He agreed that his dismissal was abrupt and a proper inquiry should have made. He attributed the absence of key players as a major factor in the dismal performance.

“We were without ace Mohammad Essa, goalkeeper Jaffar Khan and England based Zeeshan Rehman and missing such a good number of key players for which you have no alternate must has negative impact,” he said.

He said a short period coach could not deliver results and one year was a very short period.

“You need at least three years to build up a team, otherwise, every coach has his own technique and strategy and quick changes in that direction could destroy the game of the players, instead of improving it,” he said.

Meanwhile, PFF secretary Ahmad Yar Lodhi said that besides the poor performance of the head coach, boys were also weak physiologically and physically. However, he said there was no problem with stamina.

Commenting on foreign coach, he said though the decision had to be taken by the PFF Congress in that connection in next meeting on June 21, there were chances that Bahraini coach Salman Sharida could return to take the assignment.

“Under Sharida Pakistan team has given improved results and he may be one of the better choices,” he said. When his attention was drawn towards Chinese coaches, who had already delivered results helping Pakistan to win South Asian Games in 1989 and 2004, he said options were open for all.

Moreover, the secretary said former renowned footballers were being engaged to suggest to the PFF how to improve the standard of the game.