Ahmed propels WAPDA to semi-final

KARACHI: Midfielder Mohammad Ahmed hit the lone goal to guide WAPDA to a 1-0 victory over Army in the first quarter-final of the National Football Challenge Cup at the Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur on Tuesday. 21 May 2013.

International Ahmed scored the golden goal due to a blunder by Army’s defence in the 60th minute.

“We could not play like the first three league matches but still we are happy that we won the match and qualified for the semi-final,” WAPDA coach Syed Qasim Raza told ‘The News’ after the match.

“Several times the light was suspended which broke the tempo of the players. And the simmering heat is also one of the reasons why it is always difficult for the players to perform according to their potential,” Qasim pointed out.

In the first half tough fight was witnessed with both the teams inflicting incisive rallies from either wings. Army could have struck twice midway through the first half, but WAPDA’s defenders did a fine job to avert the rallies.

In the 33rd minute, WAPDA could have got onto the scoresheet but Zulfiqar Shah’s pile-driver was excellently gathered by Army’s keeper Mohammad Adnan.

After the breather, both sides kept playing aggressively before Ahmad gave the much needed lead to the four-time Premier League champions WAPDA.

In the end, the soldiers pounced on WAPDA but two of their headers went off the target.

The match was started at around 7:00pm and lasted till 9:30pm because of the intermittent suspension of the floodlights.

Sources told ‘The News’ that FIFA rules were violated when the organisers introduced the chief guest to the players during interval.

Sources said that under FIFA rules even a country’s president could not be introduced to the players during the game.

On Monday night, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) notched off a 3-1 victory over National Bank to emerge as the Group D champions with nine points from three outings.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF), who are emerging as a tough side, played extremely well against the star-studded National Bank. After a few minutes of tough fight, Mohammad Arif provided the lead to PAF with a fine field effort in the 23rd minute.

Four minutes later National Bank brought the parity through a goal from Mohammad Asif. At half time, the match was evenly poised.

Seven minutes after the breather international Mohammad Mujahid once again put PAF on the front foot before Mohammad Arif hit their third and his second just before the final whistle.

“We dominated the first half but in the second our defence got disorganised and you know the rivals are good headers and runners and what we missed they converted,” National Bank coach Nasir Ismail said. “But it was not a worrying sign as we had already qualified for the knock-out stage.”

National Bank will be pitted against the Group A leaders Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), while Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will face the Group A runners-up Pak Afghan Clearing Agency (PACA) in the third and fourth quarter-finals to be conducted on Wednesday (today) at 7:00pm and 9:45pm.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]