NBP dethrone KRL, KESC eliminate National U18s

KARACHI: National Bank dethroned heavyweight Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) when they shocked them 4-3 in penalty shootout after a nail-biting finish in the quarter-final of the National Football Challenge Cup at the Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur on Wednesday.

The match had ended 1-1 in the scheduled and extra time.

National Bank players kept their cool in the penalty shootout to end KRL’s great run in the tournament history.

Mohammad Asif, skipper Abdul Aziz, Farooq Shah and Misbah scored goals for National Bank in the shootout, while Ismail’s drive from the spot went off the target.

For KRL, Zia-us-Salam, Mohammad Qasim and Mohammad Adil converted their penalties, but the shots from Saddam Hussain and captain Samar Ishaq missed the target.

KRL had been winning the championship since 2009 successively.

National Bank will now face WAPDA in the semi-final on May 24.

Earlier, in the scheduled time, both the teams offered tough resistance to each other. KRL took the lead through Mohammad Adil when his drive went into the net after deflecting off defender Misbah in the 15th minute.

But five minutes later Mohammad Asif brought parity for National Bank with a solid field effort.

The extra time turned out to be dull as no penetration was seen from either side that took the game into the penalties.

On Tuesday night, Mohammad Rasool struck in the extra time to put Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) in the semi-final with a 1-0 win over National Under-18 team in the second quarter-final.

No team was able to score in the scheduled 90 minutes and in the fifth minute of the second half of the extra 30 minutes Rasool scored the winner to bring a sensational victory for the runners-up of the last two editions.

“It was a tough match as our rivals were young and energetic,” KESC skipper Mohammad Essa told this correspondent.

“We played well and got quite a few chances but could not get the maximum advantage from them,” said Essa, a former Pakistan captain.

“Rasool scored a fine goal. We are confident that we will also produce a good result in the semi-final,” Essa said.

National Under-18 coach Sajjad Mehmood said that he was satisfied with his team’s overall performance.

“In the initial few minutes we missed three sure goals. But holding KESC for such a long time was a good sign for our side,” said Sajjad, who had guided the same outfit to a title wining triumph in the 2011 Under-16 SAFF Cup in Nepal.

“In the second half our key defender Bilal got injured that affected our defence,” said the coach.

“This team could turn out to be a future asset for the country if given proper international exposure,” said Sajjad.

The same team will appear in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship Qualifiers in Iraq in October.

KESC will now play against the winners of the PACA-PAF quarter-final. WAPDA qualified for the last-four stage after edging Army 1-0 in the first quarter-final on Tuesday.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]