'Bitter' Habib quits as Hong Kong coach

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am

Just weeks after guiding Hong Kong cricket to its first World Cup, Aftab Habib has quit his job as coach.

'I'm quite bitter with the way I have been treated by officials from the Hong Kong Cricket Association [HKCA],' Habib said yesterday after refusing to commit himself to the third and last year of his contract.

'I don't think I have got enough appreciation. I have been the most successful coach Hong Kong has ever had, but I have been banging my head for the last two years and not received any support.

'I'm finished with Hong Kong. It's time to move on and look for another job,' Habib (pictured) added.

The charges were hotly denied by senior HKCA officials, with president Shahzada Saleem and chairman Dinesh Tandon both suggesting the former England international had stepped down for personal reasons.

'Aftab got married recently [in England] and I believe his wife didn't want to come to Hong Kong,' Saleem said. 'As for not getting any support from the executive, that is completely absurd. If he had issues, why didn't he raise it with me?'

Tandon said: 'I think Aftab had already made up his mind to go back home. He had come for the meeting on his contract and the first thing he said was he had booked his ticket to go back home. He didn't raise the topic of money at all. All he said was 'you guys can't afford me so let's not talk about money',' said Tandon, who added that he was shocked by Habib's decision to leave.

Since taking over the mantle from Robin Singh in 2007, Habib has notched up a string of successes. The men's team are the reigning Asian one-day champions (associate members), the women's team won the ACC Twenty20 championship, while the Under-19s qualified for next year's World Cup in New Zealand.

This last triumph apparently brought to a head the disillusionment Habib had with the HKCA.

'When we returned from Toronto, there was no top official to greet us at the airport, and this despite Hong Kong having made it through to their first World Cup,' Habib said. 'It was very disappointing the way things were handled.' Saleem countered: 'Both Dinesh and I had been supportive. We were up many nights sending messages to the Aftab as well as the manager. I don't think any HKCA president has sent so many e-mails as I have done to a cricket team.

'When the women's team reached the final on the ACC Twenty20 in Malaysia, I paid my own way and flew down to be with the side. This executive has been very involved with all the teams and the support we have given is unprecedented.'