NBP battle to hold HBL in PPFL

KARACHI: Mohammad Asif struck twice to help National Bank (NBP) recover from two goals down to hold Habib Bank Limited (HBL) to a 2-2 draw while the former champions Army were held to a goalless draw by impressive Muslim FC Chaman in the 9th Pakistan Premier Football League 2012 at different venues of the country on Thursday, 6 Dec 2012.

At the Aga Khan Gymkhana Ground in Karachi, Asif’s brace prevented star-studded National Bank from a certain defeat against unlucky Habib Bank who conceded the two goals due to goalkeeping blunders.

The draw catapulted National Bank to 31 points from 22 games while Habib Bank moved to 18 points from 22 meetings.

Following a flurry of incisive rallies Asim Mansoor put Habib Bank on the front foot with a splendid field effort in the 15th minute. Five minutes later they compounded the miseries of National Bank with a strike from Mohammad Yaqoob who capitalised on a fine pass.

However, National Bank, who were missing their star striker Farooq Shah due to double booking, brought discipline in their ranks and were able to reduce the deficit through their experienced front-runner Asif who scored on rebound after Habib Bank gloveman Sajid Hussain failed to punch the ball cleanly.

At half time, Habib Bank were leading 2-1.

After the breather Habib Bank played superb football and created several opportunities but National Bank defenders did a fine job to avert all their rallies. National Bank defender Misbah-ul-Hasan saved a couple of good chances, which earned him the best player award.

National Bank then exhibited their real firework and brought an equaliser in the 75th minute through Asif, again due to the goalkeeper Sajid Hussain’s failure to judge the movement correctly. He stayed under the cage when he should have rushed forward to block Asif.

National Bank coach Nasir Ismail was not satisfied with the draw. “I think we should have won the game,” Nasir told ‘The News’ after the match. “Although the team fought back strongly, in the end the frontline again saddened me with their habit of missing the goals as we had got three clear goal-scoring chances,” said Nasir, an AFC License A coach.

Habib Bank coach Yousuf Khan blamed his goalie Sajid Husain for the output which denied his side two crucial points. “I think we were in real command while leading 2-0, but we were disappointed by goalkeeper Sajid Hussain who conceded poor goals,” Yousuf lamented.

“National Bank also played well but we were extremely unlucky,” Yousuf said.

At the Government High School ground in Chaman, hosts Muslim FC held former two-time champions Army to take their points to 44 from 22 meetings. The output catapulted soldiers to inflate their tally to 48 from 23 appearances at the summit.

Today’s fixtures: PIA v KPT (Korangi Baloch Stadium, Sharafi, Karachi), Afghan FC v WAPDA (Government High School Ground, Chaman).

From: The News