Umaid Wasim – DAWN
LAHORE: Mohammad Mujahid’s powerful header proved to be the difference as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) edged out Afghan FC 1-0 in their Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) match here on Thursday.
The game at the Faisal Town Football Ground was the final fixture of the season for both sides and the PAF prevailed when Pakistan international striker Mujahid connected brilliantly to a cross from the left in the 64th minute.
The victory helped the PAF, currently fourth in the standings, finish their campaign with 53 points and the only way they can drop to fifth is if Pakistan Army manage to get seven points from their last three games and overcome a three-goal difference on their fellow forces team.
Army, who have a goal difference of 15, play the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) on Friday, the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) on Monday and end their campaign against the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) two days later.
“It was a good campaign overall for us,” PAF head coach Shahzad Anwar told Dawn after the match. “We finished on a good number of points and this season, the team improved technically.”
Afghan FC, who were already certain of safety, finished with 36 points and their players immediately left for Chaman at the conclusion of their campaign.
Earlier, Afghan FC players stifled PAF’s attack as they closed out spaces and cut out incisive passes to Mujahid.
Both teams played long balls without much penetration and the deciding goal came four minutes after the hour mark.
Mujahid, always an aerial threat, had come close to connecting to a few crosses but made no mistake this time around as he got ahead of his marker and with a forceful downward header gave the Afghan FC goalkeeper no chance.
He came close to scoring again in the dying minutes but saw his header parried wide.
“Mujahid is always good in the air and he showed why he’s a very difficult player to mark,” Shahzad added. “It is always good to end the season on a winning note and we’ll look to next season — and the National Challenge Cup — to improve on the work we’ve done this year.”