By Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui
Earlier this year, the PFF introduced a new domestic cup competition in the form of the PFF Cup. The inaugural edition of this tournament was sponsored by Karachi Port Trust, therefore the competition was known as the 2010 KPT-PFF Cup. Sixteen teams tooks part in the cup and were split into 4 groups of four teams for the round robin stage. The top 2 teams in each group advanced to the knockout stage. Matches were played at the KPT-Benazir Sports Complex in Karachi.
Following are the 4 groups, with teams listed in the order in which they finished the group stage:
Group A: Khan Research Laboratory, National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, Sindh
Group B: Karachi Electric Supply Company, Balochistan, Army, Sui Southern Gas Company
Group C: Navy, Pakistan Steel, Pak Elektron Limited, NWFP
Group D: Punjab, Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan International Airline, Islamabad
The quarterfinals saw KRL beat Pak Steel (2-1), NBP overwhelm Navy (3-0), KPT upset KESC (2-0), and Balochistan crush Punjab (4-0).
In the semi-finals, KPT beat KRL (1-0) while NBP beat Balochistan (1-0) to set up a KPT-NBP final in the inaugural PFF Cup.
KPT beat NBP by 2 goals to 1 in the final to win the tournament in front of hundreds of supporters. KPT’s winger Zafar Majeed was judged to be the Most Valuable Player, while Safi Ullah of KRL finished as the top scorer with 9 goals. Amir Gul of NBP recieved the best goalkeeper award and Balochistan were awarded the Fair Play trophy.
Thanks to leopardpr, a YouTube user from Karachi, video clips of the final match between KPT (white) and NBP (green) are available on YouTube at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/user/leopardpr#p/u
Here I will highlight the key moments of the match and provide a short match review.
The match started off rather quietly with both teams trying to find their tempo. Some rough play was witnessed, including a tackle by Yasir Sabir who was responsible for several of the goals scored against Pakistan by Iraq in the 2010 WC qualifiers.
However, there was also some good football played by both sides in the first half. But poor shooting and good defending ensured that the match remained goalless at halftime.
Half time witnessed a Makrani dance show for the fans. But more impressive was the young child who was also showcasing his ball control skills as can be seen from the 50 second mark of the following video. Let’s pray that this child will stay away from Lyari’s gang and drug culture and grow up to use his talent for the Pakistan national team, InshaAllah.
The match finally saw some exciting moments in the second half. Muhammad bin Younis put KPT ahead after a good one two pass resulted in a goalmout scrap which Muhammad was able to tuck away as he was falling down. Good anticipation by KPT’s center back and tenacious ball control by Muhammad were the keys to this goal.
NBP got a golden chance to equalize when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 70th minute. However, their captain, Abdul Aziz, missed horribly, sending the ball well above the crossbar. He had also missed a crucial penalty for the Pakistan national team earlier in the year.
KPT then took advantage of this reprieve to extend their lead in the 79th minute through a goal by Zahid Ahmed, who side-footed a through ball over NBP keeper Amir Gul, who came off his line too late.
The intelligent but fragile Farooq Shah put NBP back into the match with a goal from a free kick in the 82nd minute, but it was too little too late for NBP. The free kick was beautifully floated into the right corner of the KPT goal.
The final whistle sounded and the match ended 2-1 in favor of KPT, their first major tournament victory in 19 years. Their supporters invaded the pitch to celebrate with the players and the Rs 200,000 check and trophy were handed over by PFF to KPT’s captain, Naseer Ahmed.
A few observations:
Muhammad bin Yunus is a good striker. He made some really nice runs. Seems a smart player and has been doing quite well for KPT in the PPL. He is a youngster and really deserves a place in the Asian Games squad. Hopefully we will see him soon in the NT. He is a bit short, but taller than Farooq Shah or Arif Mehmood.
Zahid Ahmed has a nice physique and he has been doing very well for KPT the last couple seasons. He also should be called up for NT camp.
KPT’s captain, Naseer Ahmed, was very good. Good ball control and passing. Also good defending. He was selected by Kottan and also used to play for the NT several years ago, but he is in his 30s now. Although I believe he can still do a good job for the NT.
KPT played some very nice football at times. Plenty of short passing and off the ball movement. Most of the long balls were also accurate and into space. Good wing play and switching of play. If they can be consistent, they can easily win the Pakistan Premier League.
NBP seemed out of sorts. Too much individual play, not enough movement off the ball, and lax defending. Most of their good plays involved Farooq Shah, whose physique has let him down at the international level. He is otherwise one of the smartest football players in Pakistan. Great back heel by him in this clip:
The stadium is very beautiful and is located in an area where football is extremely popular. Although, the number of fans at this match was impressive by Pakistani standards, this stadium can easily be filled with fans if proper advertising and marketing is done by the PFF. This stadium should also be used by the PFF for international matches. The pitch needs to be made more grassy and the bumps need to be smoothed out, but otherwise it would be ideal for hosting the Pakistan national team’s home matches.
Overall the 2010 KPT-PFF Cup was quite enjoyable, especially for me since I am a KPT supporter. Hopefully we will see more, better organized, and better formatted tournaments in the future along with increased media coverage.