[by Alam Zeb Safi – The News]
KARACHI: National Bank held Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) to a 1-1 draw while Karachi Port Trust (KPT) notched their second win of the season after defeating Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) 2-1 in different matches of the 7th Pakistan Premier Football League held here at different venues on Wednesday.
Here at the Peoples Sports Complex, the first half of the KESC-NBP clash seemed to be an ordinary affair in spite of both teams having several international campaigners.
Two minutes before the breather, KESC could have taken the initiative but ailing striker Muhammad Rasool’s angular drive on free-kick went over the post.
After the breather, the teams managed to get some momentum and KESC were the first to get onto the scoresheet through striker Abdul Rehman who guided a fine cross from captain Muhammad Essa in the 68th minute.
However, seven minutes later National Bank made a good move resulting in Muhammad Asif scoring off a super drive after beating the acrobatic goalie Muhammad Umar. The 1-1 tally lasted till full time, with both teams sharing a point each.
“Aurangzeb Senior had a double yellow card and I was also suffering from conjunctivitis. But we have taken a good start in the season and I am confident that we will at least finish in the top three,” KESC captain Muhammad Essa told ‘The News’ after the match.
National Bank coach Nasir Ismail was happy with the way his team made a comeback against a tough team.
“You know, KESC had a good start to the season and not only their morale is high but they also have a few good players including their captain Essa. We are short of practice due to a big gap in Ramadan but I am confident that we will improve our rank this time and will try to make a place in top four,” Nasir said.
The draw helped KESC join WAPDA and PEL on the top spot with seven points from three meetings while National Bank moved to five points from three appearances.
Meanwhile, here at the KPT Stadium, hosts KPT defeated PIA 2-1 to take their points to six from three matches.
KPT opened the scoring through an excellent field goal from Shahid Salim in the 51st minute. Seven minutes later PIA got a penalty after a foul from Akhtar Mamol, which also forced the referee to show him a straight red card.
Abdul Ghaffar made no mistake to convert the spot kick, making the tie evenly poised with 1-1. The ten-men KPT did not lose heart and lanky striker Zahid Ahmad struck the decisive goal in the 63rd minute.
With the loss, PIA are struggling with two points from three matches.
Today’s fixtures: Afghan v SSGC (Jamal Nasir Stadium, Chaman), Nushki’s Baloch FC v HBL (Nushki Stadium, Nushki), KRL v Navy (Municipal Stadium, Rawalpindi), PAF v Army (Qayyum Stadium, Peshawar Cantt).