NBP continue golden run in PPFL

Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: The star-studded National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) started from where they had left by dismantling hapless Police 6-1 while Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) scored a 3-2 win over Chaman’s Afghan FC in their matches of the 8th Pakistan Premier Football League held here on Saturday.

National Bank, unlike the previous two seasons, have so far shown remarkable improvement with their players demonstrating immense confidence by putting to sword Police’s defence in front of a good crowd at the KPT Stadium.

Farooq Shah put the bankers in front in the third minute and the slender lead lasted till half time. Soon after the breather substitute striker Mohammad Asif doubled their lead when he unleashed a pile-driver from just outside the area that went into the upper side of the nets, giving absolutely no chance to the gloveman. However, Police pulled one back through Sher Hasan who converted a penalty in the 57th minute.

In the 75th minute, National Bank took their lead to 3-1 when captain Abdul Aziz capitalised on a juicy pass from Farooq Shah before midfielder Abbas Ali added to the misery of Police with a forceful drive from 36 yards. Three minutes latter Mohammad Asif struck his second and fifth for the National Bank from distance before substitute Javed Hamza completed the rout with a field effort in the dying moments.

National Bank coach Nasir Ismail credited self-belief and confidence of players for the glorious win of his team.

“You must be surprise why we are going so well this season. I did try throughout to instil self-belief in my boys. I have told them that you are stars and should at least play according to your calibre. And I am extremely happy that they have started doing well in the season and I hope that we will finish in the top three at the end,” Nasir told ‘The News’ after the match.

Meanwhile, Police coach Mohammad Akber Baloch admitted that his team’s defence failed wasn’t up to the mark.

“Yes, our defence failed to click as we were missing our two key defenders due to double booking and had fielded our strikers in the deep. But I believe that we will bounce back in the days to come,” the former international said.

National Bank, trailing at the third place behind leaders KRL and PIA, took their pints to 18 from seven meetings while Police have 12 points from eight games.

At the Peoples Sports Complex, KESC clinched three full points with a crucial win over Chaman’s Afghan FC to jump to the sixth spot with 15 points from nine meetings. Young midfielder Mohammad Riaz opened the scoring for KESC with a 15th minute strike. Afghan FC missed a precious opportunity of equalising the game when Nasir’s drive from penalty spot went wide few minutes latter. After half-time, KESC played in attacking mood and were able to double their lead through the country’s dashing striker Mohammad Rasool who scored from close-range in the 68th minute before Jadeed Khan Pathan reduced Afghan FC’s deficit to 1-2 in the 76th minute. Rasool, who was axed for Pakistan’s now cancelled series against India, landed his second in the 89th minute to stretch KESC lead to 3-1 before Jadeed Khan Pathan hit one back in the injury time but it was not enough to save Afghan FC from the jaws of defeat.

Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa missed KESC game because of his late arrival in the city. With the loss, Afghan FC are still trailing at fifth spot with 15 points from eight appearances.

Today’s matches: KPT v Chaman’s Muslim FC (KPT Stadium, Karachi), PIA v Baloch FC (Peoples Sports Complex, Karachi).