SSGC storm into Challenge Cup final [The News]

SSGC storm into Challenge Cup final [The News]

KARACHI: Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) moved into the final when they overpowered WAPDA 1-0 in a hard-fought semi-final of the National Football Challenge Cup 2019 at the Tehmas Khan Stadium, Peshawar on Thursday.

SSGC will be playing the final of a major domestic event for the first time after the outfit was strongly transformed from a mere team to a fighting unit under Tariq Lutfi, who made expensive inductions over the years.

Pakistan’s captain Saddam Hussain scored the lone goal in the 23rd minute. “It was no doubt a tough game,” Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ after the match. Karachi-based brigade under Tariq has been winning close matches in the 15-team event which has given the unit a real strength to perform under pressure. And Tariq admits this.

“It’s really the case,” said Tariq, also a former Pakistan coach. “We have been winning close matches so far. But today my team did a great job to beat strong WAPDA whose morale was very high after they outclassed defending champions Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 3-0 in the quarter-finals,” Tariq said.

“We had to call back our defender Mengal and made several changes but thanks God it did not harm us but rather benefited us and I am very happy that at least we have qualified for the final which is a great achievement. We also brought Saddam to the defence in the end,” Tariq said.

SSGC are missing a few players for the event because of suspension after they skipped the Islamabad camp and rather chose to represent Pakistan in the World Cup qualifiers first round against Cambodia. It was a tough game with either side making great efforts in hot conditions to create goal scoring chances.

WAPDA coach Tanvir Ahmed said his team had dominated the second half. “We were in full command in the second half. SSGC were totally defensive. We also scored a goal on rebound but that was disallowed by the referee,” Tanvir said.

“In the end light disruption issue for at least five minutes broke the tempo. But overall it was a fair game. The only difference was that we had mostly juniors in our side while they had experienced players,” said Tanvir, also a former Pakistan’s defender.

SSGC will now face the winners of the second semi-final which will be played between six-time winners Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and Army on Friday (today).

The final will be held on Sunday, while on Saturday (tomorrow) the match for the third position will be held between WAPDA and the losers of the second semi-final. Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Army defeated Navy 2-0 in the fourth quarter-final to set date with KRL in the pre-final. Both goals came in extra time with seasoned striker Ansar Abbas scoring in the 102nd minute and Zil Hasnain firing one in the 113th minute.

Published in The News, 2 August 2019

The Nation adds:

Army, KRL enter National Challenge Cup semis

PESHAWAR     –    Pakistan Army and KRL entered the semifinals of the 28th PFF National Challenge Football Cup after recording victories against their respective rivals here at Tehmas Khan Football Stadium on Thursday.

Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy gave each other a tough fight and there were so many inroads but none of the team could able to score any goal despite some good goal scoring chances. Both Army and Navy played well but most of the time the ball was confined to mid-field. Although there were occasion moves as well yet they failed to utilize these goal-fetching moves. After the goal-less first-half, the two teams played a draw in the second half as well and thus both were awarded extra-time.

Army did not lost their temperament and withheld position of ball by making some good attacking moves even after passing through 100m play. Army got the lead in the 102 minute of the match when Ansar Abbas Junior got a free ball in front of the goal-mouth from Muhammad Israr and did nothing wrong in dispatching it into the net with a perfect head-in conversion. It was a superb goal scored by Ansar who came acrobatically and head-in a fine goal.

When Army took the lead, Navy also kept up pressure to level the tally and they got a chance but the attempt of Irfan wide from the goal-post. It was in the 113 minute when Zill Husnain Junior doubled the lead through field attempt. Ansar and Zill exchanges the ball in front of the goal-post and Ansar gave a free ball to Zill who scored the second goal. Thus Army moved to the semi-finals with a vital victory over Navy.

In the last quarter-final, PPL champion KRL defeated Pakistan Police 6-1. Thanks to center striker Umar, who slammed in the second hat-trick of the championship by scoring three consecutive goals in the first minute, 44th minute and 53rd minute.

Right from the outset of the match, KRL was dominated and did not give much chance to Police to strike back. They have position of the ball and with excellent and flair distribution of short-passes KRL recorded 6-1 victory. When KRL took the lead in the first minute, Police tied the tally in the 40th minute through center striker Yousaf on the field attempt but then KRL dominated and scored five moves goals.

Apart from Umair three goals, Imran in the 59th minute, Zaid Umar in the 77th minute and Zeshan Siddiq in the 80th minute scored one goal each to make the tally 6-1.

Regional Head of National Bank Waseem Ahmad, AD Youth Arshad Hussain graced the occasion as guests. Senior Vice President Pakistan Football Federation Zahir Ali Shah, Organizing Secretary Basit Kamal, officials and large number of spectators were also present.

Published in The Nation, 2 August 2019