KARACHI: The worst-kept secret is out.

The Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Comm­ittee on Friday finally revealed the national team’s coaching panel for SAFF Women’s Championship with officials who had been involved in the trials as well as the training camp since the last month being named on it.

Adeel Rizki will be the head coach with Walid Javaid Khan assisting him and Ehsanullah training the goalkeepers.

Since the trio was seen conducting the trials, the PFF NC had constantly denied that they had already been hired for the SAFF Women’s Championship until Friday when they were unveiled in a video posted on social media.

The PFF NC had claimed that it not have full-time roles but will induct coaches into a ‘panel’; picking officials according to the assignment.

It hasn’t explained the reasoning behind that move but for the trials and the camp for the selected players for the women’s team, there were no other coaches involved apart from the selected ones.

The SAFF Women’s Cham­pionship, which kicks off in Nepal from Sept 6, will see the national women’s team take part in an international match for the first time in eight years.

Pakistan football has been mired in crisis and controversy for the major part of the last decade with an institutional crisis in the PFF seeing world’s football governing body FIFA appoint the NC to manage affairs of the federation. Pakistan has also been suspended twice by FIFA in the last five years.

“Players have come back with a lot of motivation, lot of drive ... there is a desire to win,” Rizki said in the video announcing the coaching panel. “We want to play with the ball, and have creative attacking style of play.”

The national team are scheduled to open their Group ‘A’ campaign at the SAFF Women’s Championship against defending champions India on Sept 7 but there are doubts whether their arch-rivals will be there in Nepal.

India was suspended by FIFA this week due to external influence in the running of the matters of the All India Football Federation.

The South Asian Football Federation decided at its executive committee meeting on Wednesday that it will monitor the situation in India until Aug 23 before revising the fixtures for the Women’s Championship.

Pakistan only came out of a 15-month suspension by FIFA at the end of June after the NC regained control of the PFF headquarters, which had been seized by a group of officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah which claimed the Haroon Malik-led committee wasn’t serious about holding elections.

Prior to the takeover of the PFF headquarters and the subsequent ban, Rizki had been in touch with NC chairman Haroon and had been promised a role in the national set up, according to well-placed sources.

The suspension prevented that but now the former Karachi United coach has been handed a role by the NC.

After his stint with Karachi United, Rizki — who holds a UEFA B license — founded the Karachi City FC club but it did not take part in last year’s National Women’s Championship which was disrupted after the takeover of the PFF headquarters. 

Walid, meanwhile, holds a UEFA C license and showed his acumen at the National Women’s Championship where he guided Highlanders to the semi-finals before the tournament was cancelled.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2022

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