Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Football Cup 2011, formerly known as National Challenge Cup, will be held at two different venues in Faisalabad from April 14 to 27 as the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) announced draws on Friday for the 16-team extravaganza.
This is the second major spectacle in the domestic slots after the Pakistan Premier League which takes centre stage with a bulky flux of encounters. As per draws, the sixteen teams have been placed in four different groups. Group A carries WAPDA, Navy, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Ashraf Sugar Mills while Group B contains KRL, PAF, HBL and ZTBL. PIA, KPT, Police and PTV have been adjusted in Group C while KESC, Army, Railways, and PMC have been bracketed in Group D.
The event will be held on round robin and the two leading teams of each group after group stage competition will move into the quarter-finals which will be held from April 21 to 23. The semifinals will be conducted on April 24 and 25 while the final will be held on April 27. The match for the third place will be held on April 26.
The event will be held at the Bohranwali Ground Club Road Jinnah Bagh and the PMC Football Ground simultaneously. The matches will start at 2:00pm and 4:00pm respectively.
One of the prime clubs of the country Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) will defend the title and Pakistan head coach Tariq Lutfi, who has joined KRL only few days back as head coach cum consultant after getting retirement from PIA, will serve as head coach of the defending champions.
The national champions WAPDA will field their second string in the competition as their senior team will leave for Kathmandu on April 18 to feature in the AFC President’s Cup Group C slots at the Dashrath Stadium from April 20 to 24.
Hosts Punjab Medical College (PMC) will be coached by former Pakistan coach Akhtar Mohiuddin who joined it more recently.
Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa, who will reach Faisalabad from his hometown in Chaman on April 13, will lead KESC while another former Pakistan captain and experienced gloveman Jaffar Khan will lead former national champions Army during the tournament.
Six current FIFA referees, two former FIFA referees and eleven national and local referees will supervise the spectacle.
Fixtures: April 14: PAF v HBL. April 15: ZTBL v KRL, KPT v Police, PTV v PIA. April 16: WAPDA v Ashraf Sugar Mills, Bahawalpur, Navy v NBP, KESC v PMC, Army v Railways.