KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) blasted their way into the final round when they thrashed Yeedzin FC of Bhutan 8-0 thanks to five goals from star striker Kaleemullah in their Group B last round outing of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup at the Cebu City Sports Centre, Cebu, in Philippines on Sunday.
“The team played very well overall,” the elated KRL coach Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ from Cebu after the match.
“We had also played extremely well against Global FC who had several foreign players,” said Lutfi.
Lutfi said that his team would also play positive football in the final round. “It’s good that we have overcome the first hurdle and I am hopeful that we will also perform well in the final round which will have some new clubs,” Lutfi said. Kaleem lived up to the expectations, scoring a splendid hat-trick to help Pakistan’s champions progress to the six-team finals to be held in September.
KRL, who before this game had held former two-time champions Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan 1-1 before beating debutants Global FC of the hosts Philippines 2-0, opened the scoring through Kaleem through penalty in the fourth minute.
Yeedzin, who were humiliated by Dordoi and Global FC in their first two outings, failed to offer much resistance against the Pakistan side featuring several international players.
After being kept away by their rivals for a few minutes, KRL doubled their lead through striker Abid Khan in the 37th minute. Midfielder Zia-us-Salam added to the misery of the Bhutanese in the 44th minute before midfielder Saadullah struck the fourth goal on the stroke of half time.
After the breather, Yeedzin FC were reduced to ten men when referee Nager Amir Noor Mohamed from Malaysia sent off their key defender Pema with the red card in the 68th minute.
Then the goal-scoring machine Kaleemullah struck four goals in succession in 71st, 75th, 83rd minutes and in the injury time to complete the rout.
This is the second consecutive time that KRL have made it to the finals without losing any game.
Meanwhile, Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan whipped Global FC 6-1 to top the group ahead of KRL on better goal-average as both outfits ended with seven points each.
At the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu, Erchim FC from Mongolia defeated Abahani Limited from Bangladesh 1-0 to qualify for the finals from Group A with four points.
Midfielder Batbilguun Ganbaatar hit the winner in the 59th minute.
However, it were Three Star Club from Nepal who topped this group with five points by virtue of a 2-2 draw with the 2011 champions Taiwan Power Company of Chinese Taipei at the same venue to also book their seat in the crucial round.
Balkan FC from Turkmenistan and Al Quds Hilal Club from Palestine have already qualified for the finals from Group C.
The final stage is played at a centralized venue chosen from one of the six qualified teams.
- Qualified teams