WAPDA crowned National Challenge Cup champions

WAPDA crowned National Challenge Cup champions

Islamabad, 13 May 2024:

WAPDA retained their National Football Challenge Cup crown after beating the impressive SA Gardens side 1-0 on Sunday night, 12 May. A gripping 90 minutes under the Jinnah Stadium Islamabad lights saw WAPDA prevail after a hard fought game.

WAPDA, the 2020 edition defending champions, took an early lead in the 17th minute. A freekick by Shayek Dost down the right deflected off the SA Gardens wall onto the path of midfielder Muhammad Yousaf Ahmed on the edge of the box, who buried it in the top corner on the half volley.

SA Gardens had to chase the game but their style of play and desire to equalize impressed the crowd. WAPDA played deep, looking to press and play on the counter to retain their lead. However, both sides goalkeepers – Hassan Ali of WAPDA and Salman ul Haq ‘Kaka’ – kept their composure, with SA Gardens denying space to WAPDA’s international experience midfield and forward lines.

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Murtaza Hussain, SA Gardens talisman, twice came agonisingly close in the 2nd half to equalize. His last minute effort after chesting down a long pass in the box and hitting it on the volley went the wrong side of the WAPDA goalpost.

The final whistle brought relief to Muhammad Habib’s WAPDA bench, and agony for Zafar Iqbal’s SA Gardens who had shown their class in taking on the best in country. Pakistan MNT boss Stephen Constantine was in the crowd, keenly observing both sides’ players.

Earlier in the day, Army tonked HEC 4-0 to win the 3rd/4th place game and collected bronze medals. WAPDA captain Rao Umer Hayat was given Best Player, Salman Kaka got Best Goalkeeper, and Shayek Dost was Best Goalscorer with his 8 goals in 6 games. PFF NC chairman Haroon Malik handed out the prizes.

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