RAWALPINDI: Wapda in a thrilling contest beat reigning champions National Bank of Pakistan on shootout to win the 66th National Hockey Championship here at the Mari Petroleum Hockey Ground on Friday.

The scoreline remained 1-1 till the end of stipulated time.

In the shoot-out, Wapda’s Tousiq Arshad and Rana Waheed struck goals to earn victory for their team.

Earlier, Wapda adopted an aggressive approach as they obtained three penalty corners in the first two quarters besides making five attempts to score.

Wapda’s penalty-corner specialist Aleem Bilal in the 17th minute gave his team lead through an angular strike.

The NBP who had expertise of several national players and were looking to lift the title for the third consecutive time were unable to match the class of Wapda players.

Less than four minutes into the third quarter Wapda got a chance to gain lead when they obtained a penalty stroke.

But NBP goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas thwarted the attempt as he anticipated well Aleem Bilal’s intention and stopped his powerful push while diving on the left side.

A few minutes later, Wapda missed another opportunity to score when Ijaz Ahmed, who was alone in the NBP circle, remained unable to put the ball into the net. At the end of the third quarter, the score remained 1-0.

NBP made a good comeback in the fourth quarter and made several attacking moves. Dilbar Hussain finally managed to score the equaliser in a spectacular field attempt.

Wapda showed aggression in the dying moments of the match but NBP packed their circle area well with the defenders, marking every attacker. The fourth quarter ended with a 1-1 scoreline.

Ultimately, the title was decided in the shootout, which was won by Wapda 2-0.

PTI Secretary General and MNA Amir Mehmood Kiyani was chief guest of the final and he along with President Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar gave away prizes and trophies.

The event winners Wapda pocketed Rs300,000 along with the glittering trophy, runners-up NBP got Rs 200,000 while SSGC, who claimed third spot, pocketed Rs100,000. A cash reward of Rs50,000 was given away to Rana Wahid, the player of the tournament.

Earlier in the third-position match on Friday, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) outplayed Navy 4-1. Mubashar Ali scored two goals for SSGC while one goal each was struck by Ghazanfar and Ahmed Nadeem. Navy’s goal scorer was Shehbaz Ahmed.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020

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