KRL, NBP set PFF Cup showdown

Published February 21, 2016
LAHORE: Pakistan Army and National Bank of Pakistan players vie for the ball during the PFF Cup semi-final at the Punjab Stadium on Saturday.
LAHORE: Pakistan Army and National Bank of Pakistan players vie for the ball during the PFF Cup semi-final at the Punjab Stadium on Saturday.

KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) held their nerve in a shootout to set up a Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Cup title showdown against National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) who prevailed by a lone goal in their semi-final on Saturday.

KRL overcame Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 4-3 on penalties after their last-four clash ended goalless at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore before NBP rode on an early goal by Mohammad Maqbool to scrape past Pakistan Army 1-0.

“It will be an exciting final,” NBP head coach Nasir Ismail told Dawn after their semi-final. “KRL of course go into the final as favourites but we won’t go down without a fight.”

Nasir added his side can learn from PAF who held four-time Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions KRL for 120 minutes.

“PAF kept them at bay so our players can draw inspiration from that and make it a close game,” said Nasir, whose side historically have produced their best performances against the top teams of the country.

KRL manager Ayaz Butt noted his team’s failure to end the game in normal time was due to the fact that they had just a day’s rest following their 3-1 semi-final win over Wapda.

“We had a high intensity game against Wapda,” Ayaz told Dawn after the semi-final. “Of course the players were tired but they still did well but we will work on our game in the final third [of the pitch].”

Like Nasir, Ayaz expected Monday’s final to be a close one and hailed his players for keeping their cool in a tense shootout.

KRL and PAF largely neutralised each other with clear-cut chances few and far between.

The shootout was tied at 3-3 with Mutuza Hussain, Zia-us-Salam and Mohammad Shahid scoring for KRL and Arif Nawaz, Mohammad Zeeshan and Mohammad Sohail netting their spot-kicks.

Both Mohammad Qasim and Mansoor Khan then missed their penalties and after Yasir Afridi scored, KRL goalkeeper Saqib Hanif saved superbly from PAF counterpart Ghazanfar Yasin to send his side into the final.

“It was a crucial save and we need Saqib to be on top his game for the final because NBP are good on quick counterattacks,” Ayaz said.

In a fast start in the second semi-final, Maqbool scored off a rapid NBP attack even though Army’s goalkeeper could’ve done better with his tame shot.

NBP Mohammad Omar then held firm as NBP’s tight man-marking foiled Army in a tactical masterclass by Nasir. “The aim was to not give Army any room,” Nasir said. “And the player played superbly to the plan.”

Army will face PAF in the third-place playoff on Sunday.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

The establishment pivot
18 Jan, 2022

The establishment pivot

It is a sad reality that the power matrix continues to revolve around the establishment.
18 Jan, 2022

Remittances growth

THE hefty growth in remittances from Pakistanis living abroad continues to defy forecasts to the contrary. New State...
18 Jan, 2022

China-Iran deal

THE China-Iran strategic deal that has recently taken effect is more than just a long-term bilateral agreement...
Security policy unveiled
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Security policy unveiled

PAKISTAN’S freshly unveiled National Security Policy has broadened the traditional concept and included economic...
Bold decisions
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Bold decisions

IT is a double blow within a matter of days. The Islamabad High Court’s order last week to demolish a navy golf...
17 Jan, 2022

Rohingya camp blaze

A HUGE blaze in a refugee camp housing members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh last week has left up to ...