by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: A team of miners and labourers, underdog Dukki, shone in the final of the Pakistan Petroleum Limited Balochistan Cup as the team beat favourites Quetta to lift trophy.
The home-team was leading the final 1-0 at half-time, but Dukki equalised and pushed the match to a penalty shootout against Quetta, winning by one goal.
Earlier, Dukki made it to the final after defeating strong teams like Kharan and Gwadar in the quarter-final and semi-final, while Quetta reached the final after beating Chaman on penalties in the semi.
This was the first time Dukki participated in the tournament.
“It is huge, we still can’t believe it, just a team of loaders and labourers at the coal mines, we are here, we can play football too,” an ecstatic Dukki coach Mian Muhammad Yar told The Express Tribune.
He added: “It’s not easy, none of the teams in the tournament were easy to play, and our region received the status of a district only eight months ago… this is huge for us, for our identity, as everybody in Dukki is mad about football.”
Yar says he made the team by selecting players from seven different clubs that are registered in Dukki.
“It’s a small district, but we have our clubs, of course Quetta has better clubs and facilities, they have more clubs to choose players from, but I made this team by getting players that play in seven of our major clubs’ teams.
“They play football all year long and I made this team before the PPL Balochistan Cup began. I made sure they kept playing against other teams before the tournament,” said Yar, adding that he had to think ahead as weather can be a great challenge for the players.
“I made sure we started early. Compared to other areas in Balochistan, Dukki has hotter climate, so it can be a battle for us, but I made sure we plan our practice sessions early and play as many matches as we can get even in the smaller tournaments in the area.”
Speaking about one of the greatest joys for his players, Yar said: “We’ve never seen a ground this big before (Malibagh Stadium), it’s greener than what we have in Dukki, the feel of that ground is different, the crowd was different and it was an experience of a life-time for all of us.”
While the tournament win helps the players financially, Yar, a veteran himself, who played football for 20 years, in local tournaments says the win is invaluable.
“The money matters, but the greater pride is just that we are the best team in the region as of now, and that is priceless,” he said.
On the other hand, Balochistan Football Association vice-president and Division Zhob official Sardar Hanif Muhammad said the upset was huge as Quetta had the option of choosing players from over 120 clubs registered in the city.
Further, Muhammad announced that the Pakistan Football Federation will take Dukki players to national camp, signifying that Dukki will be looked after.
Yar believes that his team will continue its winning streak as the players will keep playing football with their local clubs in Dukki. He hopes more opportunities will come their way in the future.