Bahrain hires Sharida while PFF sleeps

By Shazia Hasan [Dawn]

KARACHI, Oct 31: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) can forget about Bahraini coach Salman Sharida coaching the national team anytime in the near future now as the man who helped the team show some spark in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Gold Cup in 2005 and the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup has been signed on by Bahrain.

Bahrain Football Association (BFA) on Saturday announced their taking on Sharida for Bahrain’s national outfit in order to prepare it for next year’s AFC Asian Cup. Sharida, who was attached with UAE’s Al Arabi club, was let off his contract after BFA approached them with the request following their national team’s Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger’s quitting his job.

Salman Sharida, a former international footballer, was given the charge of the Pakistan football team as part of a gesture of friendship between the PFF and BFA in 2005. That same year he helped the national team win two matches, against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan while holding Maldives to a draw in the SAFF Gold Cup. The team under his coaching also created an upset by beating Kyrgyzstan in the AFC Challenge Cup in 2006. Leaving rather unceremoniously before the maturing of his contract, he went on to coach the Al Muharraq Club that won the AFC Cup in 2008. But after rumours of his showing interest in coming back to the PFF, the federation, too, had indicated that he was indeed welcome to return.

Unaware of this recent development, PFF Secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said that they were expecting Sharida in Lahore next month. “Sharida, in our last conversation with him, some two weeks back, had said that he will be coming here to discuss the terms and conditions of a new contract with us in November,” he said while speaking to Dawn on Sunday.

“But,” he added, “If his own country’s football body beat us to the race, there is little we can do now as he still wasn’t bound from our side. Too bad!”

Pakistan is currently struggling in the coaching department with a Licence-B coach Akhtar Mohiyuddin doing the job for them for the forthcoming Asian Games. Meanwhile, they have signed on the 51-year-old English coach Graham Roberts as coaching consultant for a brief two months for which he is being paid by a European sponsor. Signing him on for longer would require of the PFF to pay his salary thereafter. With a busy 2011 ahead of them where the national team features in the Olympic Games qualifiers as well as the World Cup qualifiers, it would be interesting to see what their next step would be.