Pakistan appoints Olympian Khwaja Junaid as men’s senior team coach

Pakistan has named Olympian Khawaja Junaid as the head coach of its men’s senior national hockey team, two years after he was unceremoniously sacked from the same post.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation chief Brigadier (retd) Sajjad Khokar also named three other former players — Sameer Hussain, Wasim Ahmed and Ajmal Khan — to assist Junaid in the preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Junaid has earlier worked as head coach in Khokar’s nearly four-year tenure and he was sacked after Pakistan’s debacle in the World Hockey League in London in 2017. A furious Junaid had then lashed out at the PHF president and secretary and even accused them of mismanagement and financial bloopers.

Junaid was a part of the bronze-medal winning Pakistan team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Earlier, the PHF had also named another a highly decorated Olympian Manzoor junior as the new chief selector, to be assisted by Olympians Khalid Hameed, Waseem Feroze and Ayaz Mahmood.

Manzoor junior has been among the harshest critics of the PHF set-up, particularly of Khokar and former secretary Shahbaz Ahmed who has now been replaced by Asif Bajwa.

Asked about the appointments of the very men who had been criticising him and the PHF, Khokar said at times people were misguided, at times mistakes were made but in the end they were all part of the hockey family and everyone wanted to see Pakistan hockey to prosper.

Khokar said Junaid, Sameer, Wasim and Ajmal were all former celebrated players and had given a lot to Pakistan hockey while some were also qualified coaches.

The new management is tasked with preparing the Pakistan senior team for a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament and also for South Asian Federation Games in Kathmandu.