Lahore, 24 December: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) will make debut as new name in 31st National Games football Tournament 2010 when they will face National Champions Pakistan WAPDA on Sunday, 25 December at 2 PM in Ground No.2, outside Jinnah Stadium, of Quaid-i-Azam Sports Complex, Islamabad. NWFP was the previous name of KP and they participated with that name when the football events of biennial National Games were held in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007.
Pakistan WAPDA, eighth times National Champion who won the National Games at Minto Park in 1992, are being bracketed in Group-B with Pakistan Air Force, winner of first ever National Games football show in 1982 at same Qayyum Stadium, and host Khyber Pakhtun Khawa while Group-A is comprised of five times National Games Gold Medallist Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Railways.
Football was excluded from the original list of disciplines to feature in the Games along with cycling and hockey on the basis of security fears. But Pakistan Football Federation, through it’s dynamic President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, football made its way back into the National Games on 5 December night. It will be sixth Games on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after 1958, 1974, 1982, 1990 and 1998 at Peshawar that saw change of name by NA on 8 April this year. The same city saw the debut of football in 1982 with PAF winning the gold
The KP’s goalie and defenders will face hostile time against WAPDA and their ace striker and skipper Arif Mehmood. Other players in strong WAPDA line up, that clichéd Pakistan Premier League on 12 December at Karachi, are Naveed Akram, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Abdul Aziz, Muhammad Afzal, Muhammasd Asif, Akram Masih, Mehmood Ali, Muhammad Ahmed, Khuda Bakhsh. Abdul Abbas, Aman Ullah, Ayaz Baloch, Imran Niazi, Luqman Rasheed, Qamar Zaman, Muzafar Ali, Muzammil Hussain, Naseeb Ullah, Rana Fakhar Hayat, Rao Muhammad Yameen, Syed Akbar Hussain, Zeeshan Javed, Dilshad Ali, Shahid Mehmood, Naeem Ullah. Haider Ali, Syed Arif Hussain, Basit Ghafoor, Zain Ullah, Manzoor Ahmed, Mohammad Rehman, Rizwan Safdar, Asad Shahzad, Abdul Rehman, Waqar Ali, Shahid Baloch, Ali Sher, Muhammad Rashid,Waseem Abbas and Shahzad.
The five-day Football event of 31st National Games will be held at Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium from 25-29 December 2010. The soldiers, on the other hand, will attempt to make it fourth in a row, having completed triumphs of gold in soccer of National Games three years ago, overwhelming host Sindh in final of 30th National Games Football Tournament at Karachi’s Peoples Sports Complex. They earlier won the gold in 2001 Games at Lahore and 2004 Games. Karachi’s gold was overall their fifth gold, having won top slot on 1995 and 1997.
The Games opened at Peshawar amid color and pageantry on 25 December in the backdrop of country’s declining standard among all Olympic sports as well as cricket. Over three thousand athletes from across the country including FATA, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, assisted by a good number of technical officials, assembled together to show true sportsmanship. National Games reflect the overall standard of country’s sports. The performance of athletes during five days will be true indicator how seriously they have trained for the event.
National Games Football Schedule
25 Dec: Army v Railways (Ground No. 1, 1 PM), WAPDA v KP (Ground No.2, 2 PM)
26 Dec: Navy v Railways (Ground No. 1, 1 PM), PAF v KP (Ground No.2, 2 PM)
27 Dec: Army v Navy (Ground No.1, 1 PM), WAPDA v PAF (Ground No. 2, 2 PM)
28 Dec: Group. A Vs Runner Group B. (Ground No. 1, 1 PM), Group. B Vs Runner Group A (Ground No.2, 2 PM)
29 Dec: Match between Losing semi-finalists (Ground No 2, 11 AM)
29 Dec: Between Winner of semi-finalists (Ground No 1, 1 PM)