Wednesday, March 14, 2012
KARACHI: National Youth A, who played in the AFC Under-19 Championship Qualifiers last year in Iran, gave tough time to the three-time defending champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) before going 1-2 down in their Group C opener of the National Football Challenge Cup here at the KPT Stadium, West Wharf Road, Kharadar (Karachi) on Tuesday, 13 March 2012.
The Under-19 team, who have now turned Under-20, showed sting against a tough KRL, who not only have three titles of the NFCC in a row but have also won the Premier League last year for the second time.
Pakistan Youth A suffered a heavy blow in the 29th minute when their attacking midfielder Junaid Qadir fell unconscious after a nasty collision with KRL’s Kamran. His head hit the ground when he fell on his back while going for a header. He was shifted to the nearby hospital and a team official said that his condition was out of danger.
KRL went ahead through a goal from Rizwan Asif in the 44th minute. Rizwan doubled the lead with a nice field effort in the 61st minute. Following a series of fine rallies, National Youth A reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute when Abdul Salam capitalised on a pass from Sadullah.
“It was a good match. Our youngsters played really well against a tough team. Had we not missed a few chances, the result could have been different,” Pakistan Youth A coach Shehzad Anwar told ‘The News’.
“A difference which was seen between the two teams was that of experience as KRL are a mature side. But we hope that the team would produce something stunning in the coming matches,” Shehzad said.
KRL coach Tariq Lutfi looked a bit depressed after his team was given tough time by Pakistan Youth A. “It was a close game and I had already told you that the youth side is not that bad,” he said.
In a Group B game at the same venue, KESC survived a scare when they held Gawadar Port Authority to a 2-2 draw. Gawadar Port Authority got onto the scoresheet when Tariq Badal struck in the first minute, the fastest goal of the competition.
However, KESC bounced back when striker Abdul Rehman scored the equaliser in the 18th minute. But nine minutes later GPA went 2-1 ahead with a nice goal from Naeem. Former Pakistan skipper Mohammad Essa landed an equaliser in the 78th minute to help his side open the account with a single point.
In another Group C clash at the People’s Sports Complex, substitute Jamil Ahmad struck in the 86th minute to help National Bank hold Police to a 1-1 draw.
Earlier, Police, who are participating in the tournament without the needed preparation due to the recent snowfall in Quetta, took the lead through Naseebullah in the 52nd minute after a barren first half.
“We have three players, Attiqullah, Mohammad Aadil and Adam Hameed, on the injury list, while Mehmood Khan is abroad. Our main striker Farooq Shah is also not in good shape. We were lucky to score an equaliser but we are hopeful to make a place in the quarter-finals,” National Bank coach Nasir Ismail said.
Police coach Rahim Bakhsh was satisfied with his team’s showing. “Although we failed to maintain the lead, overall our players, who don’t get the required playing facilities in Balochistan, played well,” Rahim said. Today’s fixtures: Navy v Pakistan Youth B, Army v PPWD, PAF v Railways