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LAHORE: Former Olym­pians Manzoor Junior, Khawaja Junaid, Khalid Bashir and Salim Nazim on Friday slammed the president and secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for national team’s pathetic performance in recent years as well as the financial irregularities allegedly committed by the duo.

During a joint press conference held here, the ex-national hockey players also announced that on their appeal, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Jus­tice Javed Iqbal had taken the notice of the (alleged) financial irregularities.

Manzoor, at the presser, also lashed out at other ex-Olympians — Islahuddin Siddiqui, Hasan Sardar and Shahbaz Senior — for what he termed their incompetence in handling Pakistan hockey affairs.

“Islahuddin is not a doctor of hockey, rather he is just a compounder, though he is a good human being,” Manzoor said.

“During the last 35 years or so, Islahuddin has remained active in different PHF roles, and after every failure [of Pakistan team] he has come back again. But what are his achievements?” Manzoor asked.

Criticising Hasan Sardar, Manzoor said he had no talent to pick the best team yet he was associated with the PHF as chief selector despite his selected squad hit rock bottom at the 2010 World Cup.

“Hasan does not possess sound judgement about a player’s actual talent. [Whereas] I, by the grace of God, can easily predict about a spot where a player can best demonstrate his hockey skills,” claimed Manzoor.

Manzoor also pointed out that the performance of the national team in 2017 had disappointed him a lot because arch-rivals India during the year registered seven big wins against Pakistan, which he said was a record.

“Pakistan on several occasions [in the past] secured huge victories against India on their home soil but what is happening to Pakistan now,” he wondered.

“Our hockey has descended to the last stage of destruction as we have not seized any major hockey title for around 23 years. And during the last four years, the situation has become even worse as Pakistan since 2014 have not featured in any major international hockey event [World Cup, Olympics] except for the 2014 Champions Trophy where we reached the final after many years,” Manzoor recalled.

Unfortunately, Manzoor rued, the PHF did not have the guts to carry out the postmortem of the seven defeats Pakistan suffered at the hands of India during 2017.

“And even Japan, ranked 15th, overpowered Pakistan twice for the first time during the same year.

“Had the current PHF management been sincere with Pakistan hockey and not with their vested interests, the national team would not have produced this kind of [poor] performance in international contests,” Manzoor lamented while questioning the logic behind PHF’s entire focus on sending national senior and junior teams to Australia.

Expressing his views on the occasion, Khalid Bashir claimed that “unfortunately the PHF president during the last congress meeting had protected his secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior in his wrongdoings”.

Terming the (alleged) withdrawal of cash to the tune of Rs240 million from PHF accounts a serious matter, Khalid said the secretary should be nabbed over the issue.

Khalid further claimed that when he raised the matter of financial irregularities in the federation — backed by evidence — at the congress meeting, the PHF president threatened him (Khalid) with a criminal case instead of taking action against Shahbaz.

“This means both the PHF president and secretary are involved in corruption,” Khalid construed while adding that “still we can talk with the PHF president if he minuses Shahbaz”.

He thanked the NAB chairman for accepting a reference regarding financial irregularities in the PHF.

Meanwhile, Salim Nazim said the last congress meeting was invalid because no audit statements, budget or the minutes of the last meeting were approved during that meeting.

He underlined that out of the total 104 members only 52 per cent were present in that congress meeting, noting many were not invited by the PHF, who “feared great opposition from the house”.

Salim said on a query the PHF president said the federation’s accounts were audited by Punjab Minerals Corporation auditors, but, he added, Khokhar was the head of that organisation.

“The hidden agenda of the incumbent PHF body is only corruption.”

Khawaja Junaid, who was axed as head coach by the PHF president after national team’s poor show at the 2017 World Hockey League in London, reckoned the way he was dismissed was not honourable.

“[First] you verbally promise a coaching [post] for a longer period but [then] after one bad tour you kick them out; this is not good,” Junaid said. “Please give respect to the Olympians, both at the time of hiring and axing.”

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018