Lahore, 16 December : Pakistan Army open their defence of National Games soccer title on 25 December when they will face Pakistan Railways in Group-A at Ground No.1 (1 PM Kick-off). An hour later, in Group-B, National Champions Pakistan WAPDA will take on Khyber Pakhtunkhawa at Ground No.2.
Pakistan WAPDA, who lifted the winning trophy of Pakistan Premier League on 12 December 2010, will act as hot contender when 5-day Football event of 31st National Games will be held at Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium from 25-29 December 2010. The soldiers, on the other hand, will attempt to make it fourth in a row, having completed triumphs of gold in soccer of National Games three years ago, overwhelming host Sindh in final of 30th National Games Football Tournament at Karachi’s Peoples Sports Complex. They earlier won the gold in 2001 Games at Lahore and 2004 Games. Karachi’s gold was overall their fifth gold, having won top slot on 1995 and 1997.
Popular as the biggest sports spectacle of the country – the 31st National Games – opens at Bara Road’s Qayyum Sports Complex with three thousand men and women athletes vying for honours. Peshawarities have opened their arms to welcome the participants from all nook and corner of the country as the games returned to Peshawar after over a decade. It was few months after country’s coming into being when Father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, set the ball rolling by inaugurating the first National Games at Karachi in 1948.
Football was excluded from the original list of disciplines to feature in the 31st edition of the Games along with cycling and hockey on the basis of security fears. But Pakistan Football Federation, through it’s dynamic President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, football made its way back into the National Games on 5 December night.
According to PFF, Group-A is comprised of five times Gold Medallist Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Railways. Pakistan WAPDA , eighth times National Champion who won the National Games at Minto Park in 1992, are being bracketed in Group-B with Pakistan Air Force, winner of first ever National Games football show in 1982 at same Qayyum Stadium, and host Khyber Pakhtun Khawa
Draws of 31st National Games Football Tournament
25 Dec : Army v Railways ( Ground No. 1, 1 PM), WAPDA v KP ( Ground No.2, 2 PM)
26 Dec: Navy v Railways ( Ground No. 1, 1 PM), PAF v KP ( Ground No.2, 2 PM)
27 Dec: Army v Navy (Ground No.1, 1 PM), WAPDA v PAF ( Ground No. 2, 2 PM)
28 Dec: Group. A Vs Runner Group B. (Ground No. 1, 1 PM),
Group. B Vs Runner Group A (Ground No.2, 2 PM)
29 Dec : Match between Losing semi-finalists (Ground No 2, 11 AM)
29 Dec: Between Winner of semi-finalists (Ground No 1, 1 PM)