[SOURCE: Riaz Ahmed, veteran football journalist]
Al-Shahbaz goalkeeper Shabbir was the hero as he saved two crucial spot-kicks to overcome district champions Young Baloch 6-5 in the penalty shootout. The win guaranteed Al-Shahbaz a finalist spot in the Aleem Uddin Memorial District Football League Championship hosted by Moment FC at Municipal High School Ground in Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad).
The chief guest for this semi-final was renowned sports patron Babu Jatt. The semi-final saw Al-Shahbaz and Young Baloch contest a closely fought game in which both teams missed glorious chances as well as showing some resilient goalkeeping by Shabbir and Young Baloch’s Afzal kept the game tied 0-0 after 90 minutes. Al-Shahbaz star striker Murtaza Baloch and Young Baloch pair Ali Baloch & Fida Hussain were unlucky not to score after a number of chances came begging their way.
After the end of normal time, the game went straight to penalties whereby they finished 4-4 after the allocated 5 penalties each. The successful penalty takers for Al-Shahbaz were Mubeen Sarwar, Qayyum, Asad, and Shahrukh while Murtaza Baloch continued his bad luck and missed his spot kick. For Young Baloch, Fida Hussain, Ali Baloch, Shahid Baloch, and Kaleem converted their chances but Jahanzeb’s penalty was well-saved by Al-Shahbaz goalie Shabbir. In the sudden death penalty round, Al-Shahbaz’s Rizwan converted his chance and goalkeeper Shabbir was the hero when he saved the kick of Young Baloch’s unfortunate Sameer Baloch to take Al-Shahbaz into the final.
Friday will witness the second semi-final between hosts Moment FC and Shaheen Sports.