The top hockey clubs of Dhaka are seemingly taking a u-turn on their decision to recruit Pakistani players and are considering Indian players instead in light of the strained diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan over the execution of war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah.
The top clubs usually bank on the Pakistani players to fill their foreign player quota and initially that was the case this time too.
In the absence of Mohammedan SC and Dhaka Mariner Youngs Club, the other two giants Abahani and Usha KC had initially communicated with Pakistani players, but are now having to look for players from India for the season, which starts with the Club Cup on January 7 followed by the Premier Division League, as they feel they cannot ensure the security of Pakistani players in the current context.
“We had communicated with Pakistani coach Rana Jahir, who was in charge of the club last time, along with a few Pakistani players but we had to drop that idea due to the change in scenario,” said Usha KC manager Rafiqul Islam Kamal. “We have already contacted four Indian players through Indian coach AK Bansal but nothing has been finalised yet.”
Further explaining the reason behind dropping their plan of signing up Pakistani players, the former national forward, Kamal, said, “It is a question of ensuring the security of the Pakistani players which we cannot ensure on our own. Besides, we don't know whether the Pakistani players will get visas for Bangladesh in time. That's why we are looking for the Indian players.”
Like Usha KC, giants Abahani are also communicating with an Indian agent to get the players for the Club Cup and Premier Division Hockey League despite having confirmed four Pakistani players earlier.
“We had confirmed four Pakistani players, but now we have started communicating with the Indian players as we cannot ensure security for the Pakistani players in light of the deteriorating ties between the two countries. Since the Club Cup and the league will be completed within a short span of time, we will make do with the Indian players that we can get,” said Abahani's adviser coach Mahbub Harun yesterday, adding that the club is yet to take a final decision on the issue.
However, it has been learnt from the club officials that the Pakistani players are also not too intent on coming to Bangladesh in the current situation even though there is no embargo from either the Bangladesh Hockey Federation or the government on Pakistani players playing in Bangladesh.