Lahore, 23 Dec: Front-runner Zeeshan Ali showed his class as reliable person upfront as PIA struck two second half goals to beat Pakistan Army 2-1 at Peoples Sports Complex, Mauripur Road, Lyari Town. By virtue of their 15th win in the competition, PIA grabbed third spot in the marathon Pakistan Premier Football League 2010 with 53 points after WAPDA (27 matches, 67 points) and KRL (28, 54). Army is in fourth place with 52 points while KESC stayed at fifth place with 51 points.
After a listless first session that saw both the teams applied tight marking strategy, a penalty kick brought PIA the lead in the 51st minute. Army’s left full Tanveer Shahid, who was instrumental in clearing the ball off the line in the closing stages of first half, tripped Zeeshan Ali, a man from Karachi’s ancient Keamari Muhammadan FC. Former FIFA Referee Jehangir Khan immediately pointed to the spot and Quetta-born Nasr Ullah Khan fired the ball past Jaffar Khan’s left hand in captain against captain one-to-one situation.
Five minutes later Zeeshan consolidated the lead with spectacular angular lob that sailed over advancing Jafar and dropped into right corner. It was big disappointment for Jafar, MVP in PPFL 2004, 2006 and was voted Best GK in NFCC 2010 at Multan.
Army pulled one back in the 75th minute when Chitral-born Abdul Rehman drifted the ball into left corner as PIA keeper Bilal Rafiq, aho played all the matches for Pakistan in SAFF Championship at Maldives two years ago.The soldiers might have scored another but substitute Imran Hussain’s fierce drive ricocheted off cross piece.
Jaffar, skipper of Pakistan U23 team during 16th Asian Games at China, played the final eleven minutes of the game was striker when he asked Mehmood Ahmed to take position infront of cage as goal keeper and went to Army dugout and changed his GK jersey to an outfield player jersey. Jaffar have the honor of scoring goals as striker but he failed to do so as Army suffered their sixth defeat.
Once again PIA’s manager Tariq Lutfi and coach Shamim Khan were missing from the dugout and Naushad Baloch, who scored both goals on 18 February 1982 against Bangladesh in Quaid I Azam International Tourneament, acted as stand-in coach.
Friday (24 Dec) Fixture: NBP v PAF (Sharafi Goth’s Korangi Baloch Stadium, Landhi Town 2.30 PM), HBL v PEL(Peoples Sports Complex, Mauripur Road, Lyari Town 10.30 AM), SSGC v Navy (Peoples Sports Complex, Mauripur Road, Lyari Town 2.30 PM), KPT v WAPDA (KPT – Benazir Sports Complex, West Wharf Road, Kharadar,Karachi 2.30 PM)