KARACHI: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Thursday recovered from one goal down to beat WAPDA 2-1 in the final to reclaim the crown of the PFF National Challenge Cup 2018 here at KPT Sports Complex on Thursday.
WAPDA took the lead through Ahmed Fahim in the first half.
PAF equalised through captain Mohammad Mujahid before half time.
In the second session, Samad Khan scored through a header which proved decisive.
PAF had grabbed their first crown in 2014.
“I am very happy today as the boys lived up to the expectations,” PAF coach Mohammad Arshad told ‘The News’.
“WAPDA were a good side but the way our boys penetrated today in the opponents’ defence was great,” said Arshad, a former Pakistan striker.
WAPDA, who had mostly new players in their ranks, created ripples in PAF’s defence in the beginning. The four-time Premier League winners WAPDA came close to taking the lead just after the start but PAF’s defence did a fine job.
WAPDA kept up the pressure and took the lead in the 11th minute through their key striker Ahmed Fahim who hit a fine goal through the crowded defence.
Launching a few incisive rallies from the right wing, PAF leveled the score when their captain Mujahid pushed the ball through the gap between advancing international goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain and a defender in the 32nd minute.
At half time the match was evenly poised at 1-1.
In the beginning of the second half, WAPDA could have taken the lead but Ahmed Fahim’s pile-driver from the edge of the area was smartly gathered by diving keeper Ghazanfar, who performed superbly throughout the 24-team event.
Soon afterwards PAF failed to take the lead when Mujahid’s drive from inside the area crashed the bar.
In the 66th minute, striker Samad Khan hit the decisive goal for PAF with a clinical header off a superb cross.
WAPDA coach Mohammad Habib defended his side. “I think our boys played well,” he told ‘The News’.
He said that they would attempt to win the Premier League.
Sindh Football Association (SFA) chief Syed Khadim Ali Shah was the chief guest on the occasion.
Also present were Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi, Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) Managing Director Syed Wamiq Bukhari and senator Yousuf Baloch. The winners PAF were handed over a glittering trophy and a purse of Rs1 million.
The runners-up WAPDA received Rs700,000. The bronze medalists Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) got Rs500,000.
Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) received Rs50,000 as the fair-play trophy winners.
Young striker Zaid Umar of PCAA got richer by Rs100,000 as he was declared the best player of the competitions. Zaid was part of Pakistan’s Under-13 team in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) event in Nepal in 2012.
Moreover, Rs50,000 each was handed over to Ghazanfar Yasin (best goalie, PAF), Nazir Khan (PPL, leading scorer, five goals) and Ahmed Rauf (best referee). The best assistant referee award of Rs30,000 was given to Mehboob Baloch.