KARACHI: Army and Navy blasted their way into the quarter-finals when they defeated Pak PWD and National Youth B, respectively, in their group matches of the National Football Challenge Cup at different venues across Karachi here on Wednesday, 14 March 2012.
With the Navy’s victory, WAPDA also moved into the quarter-finals as National Youth B exited after losing both their matches in the three-team Group A. In a Group D show at the People’s Sports Complex, Army were seen in real touch as they demolished Pak PWD 4-0 in front of a thin crowd to move into the last-eight stage to be held on March 18 and 19.
Pakistan Public Works Department (PPWD), who had defeated Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 2-0 in their opener, failed to offer any significant resistance to Army. Following a series of incisive rallies, Army went ahead through a goal from Akhtar Hussain in the 39th minute. At half time, soldiers were leading 1-0.
After the breather, Army went all out and added three more goals to their tally. Former international Imran Hussain made it 2-0 for Army before Ansar Abbas scored in the 53rd minute and Muhammad Jamil in the 87th minute to seal a comfortable victory.
The win inflated Army’s points tally to six from two matches. Pak PWD, who have three points, can still make it to the quarter-finals.
At the KPT Stadium, Navy confirmed their quarter-finals berth when they edged out National Youth B, the last year’s Under-16 SAFF Cup champions, 2-0. The colts, who had played impressively in their opener against WAPDA before going 0-3 down, once again showed spirited display against one of the technically disciplined and accurate side of Navy before conceding the game 0-2.
Asif Mehmood gave Navy the lead in the 20th minute when he capitalised on a pass from Nomi Martin Gill before Abdul Haq made it 2-0 for them when his pile-driver from 35 yards went into the net in the 60th minute.
“Our colts played spiritedly and created a few chances but you know Navy are a better side,” National Youth B coach Sajjad Mehmood told ‘The News’. “But the way they played shows that the boys have the guts and will improve if given proper exposure,” he added.
In a Group D game, PAF derailed the Railways 1-0 to keep their quarter-finals hopes alive. After a barren but action-packed first half in which both sides missed a bunch of goal-scoring chances, defender Mohammad Sher Ali struck on a free-kick in the 82nd minute to gift a sensational win to PAF, who will meet Army in their last game on Friday.
“We could have scored more goals, but the finishing was not up to the mark. But we badly needed the win and that we got and we will now try to defeat Army in the last match to make it to the quarter-finals,” PAF coach Mohammad Arshad said.
The Railways manager Salim Ahmad said that his team failed to click because of a poor preparation. “We had not held any camp due to financial reasons. Our team has most of the Karachi-based players. But we still have a chance to qualify for the quarter-finals and will try to defeat Pak PWD in our last group match,” Salim said.
Today’s fixtures: KESC v Pakistan Steel, KPT v Gawadar Port Authority, KRL v Police, NBP v National Youth A