PFF chief names Akhtar as head coach of Asian Games team
LAHORE Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat has appointed Akhtar Mohiuddin as head coach of the National Under-23 team which will take part in 16th Asian Games to be held at Chinese city Guangzhou from November 12 to 27.
Guangzhou is the second city in China to host the Games after Beijing in 1990 where total of 476 events in 42 sports will be contested by athletes, making it the largest event in history of the Games.
Akhtar Mohiuddin will be the eighth coach to take care of Pakistani team at Asian Games soccer after Khawaja Riaz Ahmed (Manila 1954), Sharif Khan (Tokyo 1958), Sheikh Rehmat Ullah (1974), Tariq Lutfi (Seoul 1986), Wang Wiao He - China (Beijing 1990), Joseph Herel - Slovakia (Busan 2002) and Salman Ahmed Sharida - Bahrain (Doha 2006).
Akhtar praised the dynamic leadership and commitment of PFF Chief who approved comeback of Pakistani football team in ASIAD during Fridays press briefing at Lahore. The decision to ignore Pakistans football team was surprising and a blow to the fastest growing sport in the country. The decision has raised many eyebrows. But Faisal-led PFF pushed the POA to include it in the contingent by offering to bear the expenses of the teams participation in the Asian Games.
Faisal Saleh Hayat have confirmed that since 2002, football at the Asian Games changed to age-limit and now it is a U-23 + 3 overage tournament. Meanwhile, the Olympic football competition is to retain its current under-23 status at the 30th Olympiad at London 2012. FIFA had been looking into the idea of changing the system to under-21 after the bigger confederations expressed their desire for the change, added Faisal.
The Chaman-born Akhtar was also chief coach when Pakistan played AFC Under-14 Festival in Kathmandu in 2004 and gave an impressive show to finish third in the competition. During that event, Pakistan outplayed Turkmenistan and Bhutan by identical 3-0 margins, and lost narrowly to India, Nepal and Uzbekistan.
Akhtar also remained Pakistani coach throughout 2008 with the events like Pakistan-Nepal Series at picturesque Pokhara Stadium in Central Nepal, 198 km west of Kathmandu, Second AFC Challenge Cup at Chinese Taipei and Seventh SAFF Championship at Male/Colombo.