By Muhammad Asif Khan
KARACHI: Like every hockey lover in Pakistan the discarded Goalkeeper Salman Akbar is equally dejected over the dismal performance by the National hockey team in the recently concluded 21st edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament. Salman Akbar, who is residing in Holland to represent a local club, minced no words in putting the entire blame on the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for the below-par performance in Malaysia.
“Unwarranted changes in coaching staff and the team combination only a few months before the Olympics cost us badly, however the PHF doesn’t seem to accept responsibility and putting the blame on the players instead. Planning of the federation and the performance of the coaching staff should be questioned”, said Salman Akbar while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.
“Even the lowest ranking team in the Olympics wouldn’t have altered the setup with so little time remaining for the mega event”, added Salman Akbar.
Salman Akbar is in Holland these days where, apart from representing a local club, he has also engaged himself in grooming young goalkeepers for the club.
On Pakistan’s goalkeepers, Salman Akbar was off the view that the game had changed considerably over the past few years. He added that the existing goalkeeping coaches of Pakistan were greats in their respective eras however, according to him (Salman Akbar), they were not at par with the modern coaching methodology. “Shahid Ali Khan and Ahmed Alam were excellent, even I also looked up to them, but the game has changed now and the coaches should also be aware of the latest techniques to train youngsters on modern lines”, said Salman Akbar.
“In the younger lot, I am very impressed with Mazhar Abbass, I think he can make a name for himself if treated fairly”, added Salman Akbar
On a question, the lanky goalkeeper also turned down the impression of grouping in the team. “All the players are known to me and I can’t buy this impression at all. It is probably a bid to divert the attention from the recent performance.” maintained Salman Akbar
Salman Akbar, who has played 220 international matches for Pakistan, urged the PHF to make way for the return of Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Zeeshan Ashraf and Muhammad Imran for the Olympics, adding that he was also ready to represent the national team if the PHF would provide him with an opportunity.