KARACHI: Striker Mansoor Khan’s lone goal guided National Under-18 team to a 1-0 victory over experienced Army in their Group C match of the National Football Challenge Cup at the Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur on Friday.
Mansoor, who had played a key role in the title winning triumph of Pakistan Under-16 team in the SAFF Cup in Nepal in 2011, scored the winner in the 50th minute after beating the crowded defence with one two with Bilawal.
The win helped the Under-18 outfit to move to four points from two games, while Army are still in contention for the quarter-finals with three points. Army had defeated Bhatti United in their opener 5-1.
“It was a good win,” National Under-18 team coach Sajjad Mehmood told ‘The News’. “You know Army have experienced players in their ranks but I will give credit to our youth who did a fine job,” said Sajjad.
It was the same team that won the SAFF Under-16 Championship in Kathmandu after beating India in the final.
In the other match of the group Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) stretched their points to four from two outings when they outgunned Bhatti United 2-1.
PIA went 1-0 ahead through a strike from Riaz Ahmed in the 31st minute. At half time, they had a 1-0 edge. Soon after the breather Bhatti United brought an equaliser through Mohammad Yasir, who landed a splendid field goal in the 50th minute. But international striker Shakir Lashari scored the winner in the 53rd minute to dampen their hopes.
The loss put Bhatti United out of the event as it was their second straight loss in what is Pakistan’s second major domestic tournament. WAPDA snatched a 1-0 victory against Police in Group B to enhance their quarter-finals chances with six points to their credit and still a game in hand. Mohammad Ahmed scored the winner in the 53rd minute.
On Thursday night, National Bank whipped District Football Association (DFA) Bahawalpur 4-0 in a fine start to their Group D campaign. Attiqullah, South Asian Games gold medalist Abdul Aziz, Faisal Iqbal and Mohammad Ashfaq hit one goal apiece for the bankers.
Meanwhile, sources said that the Under-18 team players were seen preparing meals for themselves. “The PFF says that this team will qualify for the 2022 World Cup. And look they are not being provided even with a cook which shows utter negligence on the part of the authorities,” a source said.
“On the one hand the technical staff of the PFF is sleeping in air-conditioned rooms with all facilities but these players have no light, no water and are bitten by mosquitoes at night in their shabby hostel,” the source revealed.
“The boys cannot sleep at night but they have to play their match at 7:00am which is great injustice with the future of Pakistan,” the source added.
Today’s fixtures: HBL v Ashraf Sugar Mills, KRL v PACA, NBP v HEC, PAF v DFA Bahawalpur
From: The News