Lal brace powers SSGC into semis [The News]

Lal brace powers SSGC into semis [The News]

KARACHI: Mohammad Lal hit a brace as Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) demolished truncated National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) 4-1 in the first quarter-final of the First Naya Nazimabad Quaid-e-Azam Departmental Football tournament here at the KMC Stadium on Saturday.

Lal struck in the 29th and 89th minute to play a key role in SSGC’s convincing win. Raziq and Amjad Hussain were the others who scored for the Karachi-based side being managed by former Pakistan’s coach Tariq Lutfi. Adam Hameed hit the lone goal for NBP in the second half.

“It’s a great win and I am happy with it,” Tariq told ‘The News’. “We missed several chances but it’s still a great effort from my boys as NBP are a renowned side,” he said.

However, he was not happy with the fitness level of his boys. “I think the boys need to improve their fitness,” he added.

SSGC play in the second-tier football but the way the department formed its brigade by recruiting several international players would definitely earn them their first-tier football ticket when football resumes in Pakistan.

In front of a thick crowd, both sides played with speed with SSGC having an upper hand throughout. Following incisive rallies, Lal put SSGC ahead through a superb field strike in the 29th minute when he steered the ball home despite having covered by the NBP defender. At half time, SSGC had a 1-0 edge.

Amjad then doubled SSGC’s lead when his pile-driver in the area went past the keeper. NBP pulled one back in the 72nd minute through Adam who sneaked through the crowded defence before nudging it into the net.

However, it did not deter SSGC who added two more through Raziq and Lal in the final few minutes to enable their team to seal a huge win.
SSGC’s Jadeed Khan Pathan and Saeed Ahmed missed a couple of easy goals.

“I think the losing margin should not have been so big,” NBP coach Nasir Ismail told this correspondent. However, he was quick to add that he was happy that his lot still fought well.

“SSGC have invested a lot. Their players draw average salaries of around Rs100,000 each while we played with the youngsters who get Rs10,000 or Rs12,000 per month,” Nasir added.

“Our 10 to 12 players are on the injury list. If you are missing so many players of the playing XI then it will definitely hurt you. For the last two-and-a-half years, there is no regular football and that’s why we are struggling,” he said.

“We played our last tournament in January and this is our second event after ten long months,” said Nasir.

SSGC are more likely to face four-time national champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in the semi-finals as the latter will take on Bahawalpur’s Ashraf Sugar Mills in their quarter-final on Monday (tomorrow).

On Sunday (today), Chaman’s Muslim Trading Company face Pakistan Steel in the second quarter-final.