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Sheikh vows to win back hockey fans

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KARACHI:Winning back fans and supporters is the ultimate goal for Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh, the new hockey coach of the national team.

HunzaNews April 17th, 2014.

Sheikh has been appointed as head coach for two years after the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) 27th Executive Board meeting in Lahore on Wednesday.

“Hockey is a result-oriented sport; we’ve lost supporters and fans because we keep losing at international events,” the veteran told The Express Tribune. “Such is the state of affairs now that we failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

“Now we have the Asian Games in September where we will be defending our title. I’m running out of time; starting from now, every minute counts.”

The all-important meeting at the National Hockey Stadium resulted in crucial changes, including appointments of Sheikh as the head coach, Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui as the chief selector and Manzoorul Hassan as the coach and manager of the junior hockey team.

Sheikh said he is aware about the importance of his new responsibility.

“I’m glad that the current PHF President Akhtar Rasool and Secretary Rana Mujahid are willing to place hockey before everything else.

“We’ve been criticising the former administration because there weren’t any satisfactory results. A lot of money was wasted and the team kept losing. We are not part of the World Cup anymore; we aren’t playing the Commonwealth Games. For me, it will be like starting from scratch.”

‘Live, breath and think hockey’

The former striker further said he has submitted a plan about preparing the team for the Asian Games in Korea.

“I’ve told them that under my watch, every player in the camp will need to live, breath, and think hockey,” he said. “I’m here to deliver results.”

Sheikh lamented Pakistan’s ninth world ranking and stated that it was due to the lack of confidence and fitness of the players.“Our players need confidence. My priority is to bring them at par with the fitness level of the European teams. There is also an urgent need to dissolve psychological barriers that prevent our players from scoring.”

We’ve finally reached consensus, says Butt

On the other hand, Rehan Butt will be assisting junior head coach Hassan along with Qamar Ibrahim, Kamran Ashraf, Muhammad Akhlaq and Mohammed Irfan. Their job tenure will last until the Junior World Cup in 2016.

Butt, who also served as a coach with the previous PHF administration, said the new appointments will prove helpful.

“I’m glad the PHF administration trusts me,” he said. “We won the Youth Asia Cup last year, and I’ve been working with the U17 players so I’m very hopeful about the future. At least there is consensus among senior Olympians now.”

In other changes, Islahuddin will be assisted by Olympians Ayaz Mehmood, Khalid Bashir, Musaddiq and Arshad Ali Chuadhry. Tahir Zaman will be the PHF Director Coaching Program.

Express Tribune

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