Controversy, drama as SSGC and Wapda reach semis [Dawn]

Controversy, drama as SSGC and Wapda reach semis [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: Nasir Ismail claimed that the referees denied his National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) side a clear equaliser against Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).

“The referee didn’t even see that there was a SSGC player on the goalline,” he told Dawn, alluding to Farooq Shah’s scissors kick which was ruled offside.

“In one decision, he has spoiled the whole tournament for us,” he fumed. “The tournament organisers have spent so much on putting this tournament together and they should’ve spend something to appoint top referees.”

Incidentally, the tournament is being organised by his own department.

NBP crashed out of the inaugural NBP President’s Cup after a 1-0 loss to 10-man SSGC in a tense quarter-final at the KPT Stadium here on Wednesday.

SSGC advanced to a last-four clash against Wapda who earlier held their nerve in a dramatic shootout, prevailing 11-10 against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) after they finished scoreless at the end of extra time.

“We believe we have a good chance to reach the final and it will be a big achievement for our team,” SSGC’s Pakistan international striker Saadullah told Dawn after the second division side won against their top-tier opponents.

“Today’s win has really lifted our morale and reaching the final would only inspire us to aim for more.”

In a physical match, both SSGC and NBP took the game to each other and the solitary goal came on a defensive blunder.

On a hopeful long punt, the NBP defender made a hash of a clearance and the ball fell kindly to striker Mohammad Lal who gleefully lifted it over NBP goalkeeper Mohammad Umer in first half stoppage time.

The goal opened up the game as NBP went chasing for the equaliser.

They nearly had it early in the second half when Farooq spectacularly turned in a bouncing ball inside the box — an effort which was eventually ruled offside.

Nasir screamed at the lineman protested with the match commissioner and he was further aggrieved on another offside call with substitute Adnan Ahmed incorrectly ruled offside when clear on goal.

Only the width of the post then denied NBP as Mohammad Zeeshan’s ferocious strike rebounded with goalkeeper Ehsanullah well beaten.

SSGC were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when Abdus Salam was shown a second yellow card.

With numerical advantage, NBP poured men forward in search of a leveller but instead it was the ten men of SSGC who had the better chances late on with Lal and then Saad denied by a couple of brilliant saves by Umer.

“We could’ve won with a greater margin late on,” SSGC coach Tariq Lutfi told Dawn. “We need to work on our finishing because Wapda can punish us for our profligacy in front of goal.”

Wapda struggled to get past a well-drilled SNGPL outfit in the other quarter-final.

In a match of few chances, second-division SNGPL did well to frustrate Wapda and take them to an enthralling shootout.

The teams then mirrored each other in a 30-penalty long shootout before top-tier Wapda eventually won.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2017