KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) lifted their fourth consecutive title when they defeated Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) 3-1 in penalty shootout following a goalless draw after extended time in the final of the KPT National Football Challenge Cup 2012 here at the KPT Stadium on Friday.
After a goalless stalemate in the scheduled and extra time, KRL, also the 2009, 2010 and 2011 champions, kept their cool in penalty shootout to shatter their rivals’ hopes of wearing their maiden crown.
KRL keeper Shahid Nabi saved two penalties from Akbar Ali and Ahmad before Muhammad Rasool’s shot went off the target. Only skipper Muhammad Essa was able to convert his penalty for KESC.
For KRL, Kaleemullah, Shahid Ahmad and Zia-us-Salam converted their penalties, while Muhammad Shahid’s drive was splendidly gathered by KESC keeper Jahangir Shah before captain Samar Ishaq hit the pole.
Earlier, in the regulation time, both sides played open game, but failed to create solid opportunities. KRL had applied top tactics by marking KESC’s dangerous striker Muhammad Rasool and play-maker Muhammad Essa—moves which paid them dividends.
Credit also goes to the KESC defender Akbar Ali who looked motivated and did a fine job in the deep. The former international was amply supported by Aurangzeb Junior as they gave little chance to KRL striker Kaleemullah and midfielder Muhammad Aadil to penetrate. Both Kaleem and Aadil, despite great talent, failed to play sensibly.
In the initial stages of the game, KESC could have taken the initiative but Muhammad Rasool’s drive went upright. Moments later, KESC defender Akbar Ali averted a fine rally from Rizwan Asif before Aurangzeb smartly tackled Kaleemullah in the danger zone. Then Kamran’s header off Rizwan went astray. Soon after the breather, Aadil sneaked through KESC defence but failed to beat it before Kamran’s header off a corner missed the target.
In the first half of the extra time, KESC keeper Jahangir excellently averted a fine rally before KESC defender Akbar Ali’s shot from outside the penalty box just missed the post.
“When the game ended in a goalless draw, I was sure that we will win it but luck deserted us during the penalty shootout,” KESC skipper Muhammad Essa said. “We were really hurt by the absence of injured Aurangzeb Baba and Moosa. We needed them more for the vital clash,” added the former Pakistan captain.
Tariq Lutfi looked a relieved man after the triumph. “I am really happy with the victory,” he said. “We had dominated the field play and had broken KESC’s defence but could not score goals. Yasir Afridi did a fine job and then on penalties our players kept cool that completed the job,” added Lutfi.
The winners KRL were handed over a cheque of Rs300,000, trophy and gold medals; the runners-up KESC received a purse of Rs200,000, a trophy and silver medals; the third position holders WAPDA had to content themselves with Rs100,000, a trophy and bronze medals.
The Fair-Play trophy and Rs30,000 went to Pak PWD. The best player award of Rs25,000 and a trophy was received by KRL international defender Kamran Khan. “I did not expect that I will be able to win the best player award,” Kamran said.
Muhammad Rasool of KESC got Rs20,000 and a trophy as the leading scorer with 10 goals. “There was no pressure on me but I don’t know why my kick in penalty shootout went off. But it’s part of the game and I am happy with my performance,” said Rasool.
Jahangir Shah of KESC, who got Rs20,000 and a medal for being the best goalkeeper, said: “I was confident that I will win the best goalie award.” Shafaat Habib (best referee) also got Rs20,000 and a medal. Muhammad Arsalaan received Rs10,000 for being the best assistant referee.
Saturday, March 24, 2012