KRL, KESC in semis after Rizwan, Rasool hat-tricks

KARACHI: Rizwan Asif and Muhammad Rasool scored hat-tricks in quarter-finals to push defending champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and the last year’s runners-up Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), respectively, into the semifinals of the KPT National Football Challenge Cup 2012 here at the KPT Stadium on Monday.

Rizwan’s treble guided KRL to a 3-0 victory over Karachi Port Trust (KPT). Rasool scored his second consecutive hat-trick to shepherd KESC to a 3-1 triumph over National Youth A in the quarter-finals.

In the semifinals to be held on Wednesday (tomorrow) at 1:00pm and 3:45pm respectively, KRL will face Navy, while WAPDA will lock horns with KESC.

Rizwan, who also plays for Pakistan, looked in fine touch against KPT that looked off-colour throughout the encounter.

Rizwan took his personal tally to six by scoring goals in the 8th, 43rd and 55th minutes. “Rizwan looked in wonderful touch,” KRL coach Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’. “But still I am not satisfied with the overall performance of my team. We could have scored three or four more goals, but the boys took it easy after hitting three. Our semifinal against Navy will be a tough one,” said Lutfi, a former Pakistan coach.

After a poor first half, KPT were unlucky not to score when Naveed’s drive crashed against the post after it kissed the gloves of KRL goalkeeper Shahid Nabi.

KRL, the champions of 2009, 2010 and 2011, could have inflated their lead, but Kaleemullah’s header on a cross from Rizwan Asif just missed the target before KPT’s goalkeeper Sajid Hussain splendidly gathered a close-range shot from Muhammad Qasim.

In the end, KRL midfielder Mudassir Saeed got injured during a collision and had to be taken away on a stretcher.

KPT coach Mohammad Asif was disappointed with his team’s performance. “The first goal was wrongly given. We had planned to take a cautious start and then go for an attack, but everything was spoiled after we conceded two goals in the first half,” Asif lamented.

Earlier, Chitral-born Muhammad Rasool, scored his second hat-trick to enable KESC to trounce National Youth A. The hat-trick made Rasool the leading scorer of the competition with seven goals.

After a barren but action-packed first half, Rasool provided KESC the lead in the 47th minute. But they failed to maintain it for long as National Youth A brought the parity through Saddam Hussain in the 54th minute. Following a hot battle, Rasool once again put KESC ahead with a 73rd minute strike. The dashing striker hammered his third in the 79th minute to seal a comfortable victory for his side.

“I always try to put in my best and will continue to do so,” Rasool said.

KESC skipper Muhammad Eassa said that his team got advantage of counter-attacks. “We got a lot of advantage of counter-attacks. Rasool looks in the form of his life. Our defence also played an organised game,” added Essa, a former Pakistan captain.

“WAPDA are a good side and we will have to play very carefully against them in the semifinal,” he said. National Youth A coach Shehzad Anwar lamented his team’s poor finishing. “There was a difference of experience. Had our players like Junaid Qadir, Saadullah and Saddam Hussain not missed a few chances the result could have been in our favour,” he said.