by Alam Zeb Safi
PESHAWAR: DFA Chitral edged DFA Mardan 1-0 in the final to wear the crown of the Ufone 4G Football Cup Khyber Pakhtunkhwa here at the jam-packed Tehmas Khan Football Stadium on Saturday night.
Khaleeq-Uz-Zaman’s lone goal in the second minute helped Chitral to win the high-voltage decider which was witnessed by a thick crowd.
Now Chitral, the winners of KP leg, will meet Balochistan’s leg champions Muslim FC of Chaman in the super-final which will be held at the same venue on Sunday night (today).
In the high-voltage outing during which either side made frantic efforts throughout to dominate. However, it was star-studded Chitral, led by discarded international striker Mohammad Rasool, which made a stunning start when Khaleeq-Uz-Zaman opened the scoring through a fine header off a pass from Mohmmad Rasool in the second minute.
After that mostly fast but rough game was witnessed. Both sides failed to use the wings properly. Mardan failed to manage any solid rally in the first quarter with only one shot coming from them from long-range which just missed the bar.
Chitral created a solid chance after 20th minute but their player’s slow push went off the target despite the fact that the goalkeeper had been beaten.
Rasool, towards the end of the first half, scored with a pile-driver but the referee disallowed it for off-side reason.
In the second half, Chitral tried to put pressure on Mardan and created rallies from the right wing. However, they were unlucky when once their player’s drive crashed the pole. And minute after Mardan’s defence foiled Chitral’s dangerous attack.
After a few minutes Rasool managed a solid cross from the right wing but there was no other player who could make it productive.
“We did a fine job and I am very happy with the way we played,” Chitral’s skipper Mohammad Rasool told ‘The News’.
Mardan’s skipper Mansoor Khan, Pakistan’s current international striker, was also satisfied with his charges’ performance despite the loss in the decider.
“We made good efforts and created some chances but luck did not favour us,” Mansoor told this correspondent
“Losing to a side having a bunch of international stars by one goal is a great effort from my side and I am very much motivated by this outcome. It shows how quality footballers Mardan is producing,” Mansoor said.
Ufone Chief Human Resource Syed Mazhar Hussain Shah graced the occasion as a chief guest. He told ‘The News’ in an informal chat that every effort would be made to broaden its canvas in order to benefit the community more.
The winners were handed over a glittering trophy and a purse of Rs300,000 while the runners-up went away with Rs150,000. The leading teams were also given away medals.
As many as 71 outfits from across KP showcased their worth in the vital event which kept the game alive at a period when FIFA have suspended Pakistan for the third party’s interference due to infighting among various groups.