KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and former champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) qualified for the semi-finals when they defeated K-Electric and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), respectively, in the quarter-finals of Football Challenge Cup at Lahore on Thursday.
PIA stunned four-time runners-up K-Electric 3-1. KRL defeated NBP 1-0.
In the first quarter-final, at Railways Stadium Lahore, PIA fought back strongly to prevail over hot favourites and reigning Premier League champions K-Electric.
Chitral-born dashing striker Mohammad Rasool provided K-Electric lead in the 36th minute. And at half time, they were leading 1-0.
In the second half, a gruelling fight was witnessed and it were PIA who made a stunning fightback by ripping apart K-Electric’s defence, scoring three goals inside 27 minutes to seal a comfortable victory.
Nasrullah levelled the score for PIA when he hit from the spot in the 79th minute. In the scheduled time the score was 1-1. Then extra 30 minutes were given and there PIA raised their game scoring twice to seal a comfortable win.
Zeeshan Ali put them ahead in the 93rd minute before Imran hitting their third in the 106 minute.
PIA coach Shamim Khan said his team exploited weaknesses of K-Electric.
“It was a hot day. K-Electric’s players had been exhausted. They also had a few players on the injury list. We had young players in the side who were able to beat the hot weather and that helped us,” Shamim said.
“K-Electric rarely created any movement. They got just one chance which was converted,” said Shamim, whose team had lost to KRL in the 2009 edition’s final in Hyderabad.
K-Electric’s coach Akbar Ali said they missed chances.
“Rasool missed easy chances that hurt us a lot,” Akbar said.
He said this was the second time that his side lost in the quarter-finals of this event.
In the second quarter-final at Faisal Town Ground, KRL edged NBP by a narrow margin to book a well-deserved berth in the semi-finals. Young striker Murtaza Hussain struck the winner in the 32nd minute.
KRL’s coach Sajjad Mehmood said his team should have scored more goals. “Murtaza struck one but squandered many. But we were lucky to avoid a blow in the start when NBP’s Sher Ali failed to convert a penalty,” Sajjad said.
Today’s fixtures: Quarter-finals: Navy v WAPDA (Railways Stadium, Lahore), PAF v Navy (Model Town Football Academy Ground, Lahore).