by Kashif Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: A hat-trick from young striker Fawad Khan helped Peshawar’s Ghosts FC defeat Steel Town FC2 of Karachi to win the Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five Pakistan Champion title here at Total Football on Sunday night.
With the well-earned victory Ghosts FC grabbed a lifetime opportunity of travelling to Brazil in July this year for the world finals of the Neymar Jr’s Five global championship that will be staged in Santos, the hometown of preeminent Brazilian striker Neymar Jr.
Ghosts FC, in the best-of-three final, proved too good for Steel Town FC2 as the former overpowered the latter 5-3 and 4-0 — in shootout — to make the Neymar Junior Five to be staged in July.
Earlier, in both the matches no team could score even a single goal during the stipulated time, sending the contest into shootout stage in which Talha Asim-led Ghosts FC outclassed their opponents.
Asim, Fawad and Ahmed Nawaz scored the goals for Ghosts FC; whereas scorers from Steel Town FC2 included Yousuf Orangzeb and Zonail Gul.
Ghosts FC reached the national finals after winning the Peshawar qualifiers last month. They were joined by Steel Town FC2, Lahore’s Fantastic Five and Islamabad’s Highlanders Academy who won the qualifiers staged in their respective cities.
Earlier in the semi-finals, Ghosts FC beat Highlanders Academy 2-1 in shootout (sudden death) while Steel Town FC2 overwhelmed Fantastic Five 2-0 in shootout after a goalless encounter.
In Brazil, Ghosts FC will lock horns with the best in business; some 35 countries spread over six continents are expected to compete in this hugely popular action packed footballing format which tests the players to the fullest even in its short duration.
Talha, meanwhile, was jubilant on qualifying for the big stage.
“We are very happy on getting the chance of visiting Brazil, and that too on the invitation of Neymar Jr is really amazing,” said Talha.
Underlining teamwork was crucial in his team’s achievement, the winning skipper insisted there was no dearth of talent in Pakistan, but the only thing that was required was proper patronage.
“I hope this event will given new boost to our youngsters,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking to Dawn, Red Bull’s national communication manager Maria Mahesar said the basic aim of the event was to provide a platform to young footballers to showcase their skills.
“Neymar Jr came up with this idea and now our winning team will visit Brazil to join over 30 teams from across the globe, which is really a matter of proud for all of us,” Maria stated.