Thursday, March 25, 2010


Pakistan had almost roped in Paul Lissek to mastermind their hockey team’s turnaround after the World Cup debacle but the multiple bomb blasts in Lahore on March 12 forced the famed German coach to have second thoughts about taking up an assignment in what is a strife-hit country.

Sources told ‘The News’ on Wednesday that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had sounded out Lissek during the World Cup held in New Delhi from Feb 28-March 13. According to details, PHF secretary Asif Bajwa met with Lissek on the sidelines of the World Cup, where Pakistan slumped to a catastrophic last-place finish.

Bajwa offered Lissek to head Pakistan’s coaching staff and help the former world champions prepare for several major international events like the Asian Games this year in China and the 2012 Olympics in London.

Lissek, who masterminded Germany’s rise as one of the most successful hockey nations during a stint that lasted for almost a decade, was initially reluctant but later conveyed his willingness to take over as Pakistan’s head coach. This happened just a few days before the March 12 blasts in Lahore that made headlines around the world.

“Lissek started having second thoughts about working in Pakistan after what happened in Lahore,” said the source. “He knew that Lahore is the headquarters of Pakistan hockey and as national coach he will have to stay there a lot,” stressed the source.

However, the source added that Lissek is still mulling over the option and is expected to tell the PHF about his decision on the offer within the next few days.

“Lissek is still very much the favourite to take over as Pakistan’s coach,” said the source. “He has always been keen to be a part of Pakistan hockey and now that he is not attached to any team on a long-term basis, Lissek is seriously considering the PHF offer. He would have said yes after the World Cup but is now having second thoughts because of the security concerns.”

Pakistan have had foreign sports coaches in the past though Geoff Lawson, the former Pakistan coach, was the last one to come and work here. His tenure ended acrimoniously in 2008 when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sacked him.

Apart from Lissek, the PHF is also targeting an Australian coach but according to sources he is not as high-profile as the legendary German. Australia’s two most high-profile coaches — Ric Charlesworth and Terry Walsh — are already associated with Australia and USA respectively.

The PHF top brass is interested in Lissek because he is supposed to be the best coach around when it comes to improving a team’s defence. Even Charlesworth was compelled to hire Lissek as his consultant ahead of the World Cup and according to experts his move paid off when the Aussies tamed Germany in the final to regain the world title in the Indian capital earlier this month.

Lissek, known as the ‘mathematician’ in world hockey circles, helped the Aussies unlock the defensive Germans, who had denied them the title in the previous two editions of the World Cup.

He served as Malaysia’s head coach for several years and almost signed a contract to work with India a couple of years back.

Pakistan have to hire a coach as soon as possible as they are without a team management and will need one when the Greenshirts feature in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh (Malaysia) from May 6-16. The PHF sacked the entire team management after the World Cup disaster.