Rizki allowed as Olympic qualifiers have no binding qualification requirements for coaches [Dawn]

Rizki allowed as Olympic qualifiers have no binding qualification requirements for coaches [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: Football coaches across Pakistan had tuned in to the livestream of the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifying tournament match between the national women’s team and the Philippines on Wednesday. As much as the whole exercise was to watch the side in action, it was more to see who was on the bench as head coach.

The Pakistan Football Federa­tion Normalisation Committee had tried to be discreet about Adeel Rizki’s presence with the team as its gaffer in Tajikistan. That worst-kept secret was out when Rizki appe­ared at the press conference on Tuesday alongside the head coaches of the other three teams in Group ‘E’.

Rizki’s appointment as head coach last year, coinciding with the national women’s team ending its eight-year international isolation by appearing at the SAFF Women’s Championship, was fiercely criticised.

With Rizki not having the requisite qualifications — he holds a UEFA B-License when regulations of the Asian Football Con­federation ask for a Pro-License holder to be head coach of the national teams — many felt the appointment was due to his personal links with NC chairman Haroon Malik.

The AFC had been unclear on what regulations it was applying for coaches at the Olympic qualifiers and a glimpse of Adeel in Pakistan’s technical area in an eventual 4-0 defeat to the Philippines in their group opener sent the country’s coaching community into meltdown. Former Pakistan assistant coach Nasir Ismail posted on social media that it was a “dark day for Pakistan’s AFC A-license coaches”.

The AFC broke its silence on Thursday, telling Dawn that the “Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Paris 2024 falls under the umbrella of FIFA, and the AFC follows the regulations and requirements set by FIFA.”

While the tournament at the Games in Paris next year falls completely in FIFA’s ambit, the qualifiers are organised in association with the continental bodies.

The global football body did not issue an official statement but Dawn understands that Rizki has been allowed to be the head coach as there are no specific coaching qualification requirements in place for the first round of qualifiers, which will see group winners advance to the next stage.

Rizki will now set up his charges for a clash against Hong Kong on Saturday. Hong Kong ran out 3-0 winners over hosts Tajikistan in the other group game on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2023