Pakistan were forced to appoint Olympian Khwaja Junaid as their hockey coach for the Azlan Shah Cup after the foreigners shortlisted for the job backed out citing security concerns.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Qasim Zia admitted that security issues in the country had discouraged the prospective candidates from taking up the assignment. "They are reluctant to come to Pakistan at this stage and stay here as part of their coaching assignment," he said.
Zia said the PHF has appointed former midfielder Junaid as coach and manager of the national team for the Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Malaysia from May 6. "Junaid's appointment is for the Azlan Shah and he will be assisted by Ahmed Alam and Ajmal for the tournament," Zia said.
Junaid has coached the national junior team in the past. The PHF had negotiated with famed German coach Paul Lissek, Australian Barry Dancer and an Argentine for the coaching job but none seemed interested.
Zia, a former Olympian himself, had sacked Shahid Ali Khan (coach) and Asif Bajwa (manager) after Pakistan finished last in the World Cup held in New Delhi this year. Bajwa, however, continues to be the PHF secretary despite a movement launched by Olympians demanding his ouster.
The Olympians met sports minister Ijaz Jakhrani earlier this week to discuss the state of affairs in hockey and demanded that Bajwa be sacked.