PIA down Army as Navy hold KESC

Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: Zeeshan Ali struck twice as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) overwhelmed former champions Army 3-1 while injury-hit Navy held Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) to a 1-1 draw in their matches of the Pakistan Premier Football League here on Wednesday.

At the Sharafi Goth Football Ground here, PIA earned their third straight victory to join National Bank at the second spot in the league table with nine points. Saddam Hussain gave PIA the lead in the 31st minute before Zeeshan Ali doubled their advantage through a solo effort in the 58th.

Eight minutes later, Army, on whose request the venue was changed after they forfeited their previous game against National Bank at the KPT Stadium the other day due to aerial firing outside the venue, reduced the deficit through a strike from Sharjeel Vicky in the 66th. PIA restored their two-goal advantage when Zeeshan scored with a brilliant effort in the 82nd to complete his brace.

Army are struggling with four points from five games. In the match, PIA’s midfielder Waseemullah received a heavy blow on his nose during a collision which forced the management to take him to a local hospital for treatment.

“The team has been playing brilliantly and today we defeated a tough side which will boost the morale of the players and I hope that the boys will keep their form going to strengthen their position,” PIA coach and former international Shamim Khan said.

Army manager Major Shafqat blamed his side’s poor defence as sole reason behind their humiliating loss.

“Defence is our strength but today our defenders made mistakes which harmed us a lot,” Shafqat said. “But I will appreciate the pitch and crowd at the Sharafi Goth. Everything was fine.”

At the Peoples Sports Complex here, the struggling Navy broke their losing spree when their match against KESC ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

The draw took Navy’s points to two from five matches while KESC stretched their tally to five from three outings.

Striker Mohammad gave KESC the lead in the 43rd minute before Mohammad Ramzan scored the equaliser for Navy in the 57th. Four minutes later, Navy were reduced to ten men when Ramzan was sent off by former FIFA referee Jehangir Khan with a straight red card. KESC, led by former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa, tried their best to put pressure on their under-strength rivals with incisive rallies but failed to get on the scoresheet.

“Our frontline was the biggest disappointment. We hed an upper hand, particularly, after our opponents lost Ramzan but the frontline failed to convert any chance,” KESC manager Hassan Baloch said.

Navy’s coach Khalid Zubair, on the other hand, breathed a sigh of relief after his unit ended their losing streak.

“We were in trouble particularly after we lost Ramzan in the second-half but it’s good that we did not concede any goal after that and earned a point. My injured players are recovering and I feel that we will bounce back,” Khalid said.

At the Sadiq Shaheed Stadium in Quetta, PMC Athletico held PEL to a 1-1 draw to take their points to two from five games while PEL opened their account with a single point from three matches. Mohammad Ashraf gave PEL lead in the 36th minute before Mohammad Usman restored parity for PMC Athletico with a field goal in the 55th.

Today’s fixtures: Police v KRL (Sadiq Shaheed Stadium, Quetta), Muslim FC v WAPDA (Sadiq Shaheed Stadium, Quetta), KPT v PAF (KPT Football Stadium, Karachi).