KARACHI: Former three-time champions Army were off to a convincing start when they downed Muslim Hands FC 2-0 in their Group F opener of the PFF National Challenge Cup 2023 at the Municipal Stadium in Rawalpindi on Wednesday.
Afzaal put Army ahead in the 64th minute before Dabeer Hussain doubled the lead in the 72nd minute.
Army coach Jaffar Khan said they squandered many chances. “The winning margin could have been much better but we missed so many chances,” Jaffar told ‘The News’.
“The boys got relaxed but it was the first game. I hope we will raise our performance,” said Jaffar, a former Pakistan captain.
In a Group D show, at Bahawalpur, Otto Cranes held SA Farms to a 2-2 draw after going 2-0 down in the crunch game.
Hussain and Sufyan put SA Farms 2-0 ahead by scoring a goal each in the third and fourth minutes, respectively. Haider reduced the deficit for Otto Cranes in the 37th minute before Hussain levelled the score 2-2 in the 69th minute.
In the Group E match at the SA Garden Ground in Lahore, SA Garden routed Saif Textile FC 3-0. Shakeel Ahmed put the winners ahead in the 48th minute. Umair doubled the lead in the 72nd minute. Murtaza landed the third goal in the 88th minute.
In a Group B clash, at the Ayub Stadium, Quetta, Mohammad Saleem’s goal in the stoppage time enabled Milo to hold Hazara Coal Company to a 1-1 draw. Syed Haider had put Hazara Coal Company ahead in the 12th minute.
In a Group G show, at the Tehmas Khan Stadium, Peshawar, BHCC held Mamsons Builders to a 1-1 draw.
Mohammad Rizwan provided the lead to Mamsons Builders in the 31st minute. Discarded international Yasir Afridi brought the parity for BHCC in the 74th minute.
As many as 27 teams are competing in this event. The first phase is a home and away engagement and the two top teams from each seven groups and the two best third-placed sides will progress to the pre-quarter-finals.
The knock-out sage will be held in May.