by Mir Shabbar Ali
KARACHI: Reigning Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions K-Electric had not looked for much consolation after their 4-3 defeat against arch-rivals Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) on Thursday.
On Saturday, however, Mohammad Rasool’s header was enough for them to finish as the third-best side of the NBP President’s Cup as they beat Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 1-0 at the KPT Stadium.
“We have played this match out of formality, third place matches are played in leagues, not in such tournaments,” K-Electric coach Hassan Baloch told Dawn. “Most of our best players were either injured or suspended. Playing a match in such situation is always difficult.”
SSGC, who played their semi-final against Wapda just a day before, had less complaints and put up a decent show despite failing to score.
“The third place match is a must in all tournaments but it would have been better if there was some prize money or trophy for this position,” SSGC coach Tariq Lutfi told Dawn. “Congratulations to K-Electric as a win today was important for them to somewhat preserve their pride as the league title holders,” he added.
K-Electric did not have the services of some of their best players but their starting line-up featured seasoned forwards Rasool and Mohammad Riaz whose influence resulted in some good attacking football from the PPFL champions.
The only goal came in for them after midfielder Abid played a quick one-two with right-winger Abdul Rehman , who utilised the acres of space ahead of him to send in a cross for an unmarked Rasool who headed it past the far post with ease in the 11th minute.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rasool who missed some easy scoring chances during the match. In the 6th minute, the K-Electric striker controlled a throw-in at the edge of the box but volleyed it just over the cross-bar after beating one defender.
Rasool was clear on goal again in the 22nd minute but scuffed it for the SSGC goalkeeper Tanveer Ahmed to grab it safely.SSGC were up against the the best but they dominated ball possession after quarter of an hour after kick off. Midfielder Bilawal-ur-Rehman was the pivot as Lutfi’s side displayed glimpses of high quality soccer.
Bilawal exchanged quick passes with striker Mohammad Laal but was unable to convert from just inside the box in the 25th minute. The seasoned playmaker came close to scoring again in the 34th when his pinpoint freekick from the edge of the box was guided above the crossbar by K-Electric goalkeeper Ghulam Nabi.
SSGC were wasteful again later in the second half when Bilawal’s shot was blocked in the 70th minute after he received a juicy pass at the edge of the box.
Mohammad Lal shot wide just before the full time whistle.
“The team needs more time and we have to develop more maturity upfront,” Lutfi told Dawn. “We have missed a lot of chances in this tournament.”