Lahore, 17 March : Sixteen teams are being called to show their mettle in 21st NBP National Football Challenge Cup (NFCC) at Faisalabad. PMC Athletico Club Faisalabad earned the hosting rights and will run the event from 14-27 April, 2011. PFF set 22 March 2011 as last date for confirmation of team participation.
Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) will defend the title who won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. They had broken the jinx of not winning title in domestic soccer in 2009 since their maiden appearance in 1995 when they imposed 1-0 win over PIA in the final at HESCO Complex, Hyderabad and defended the title with stylish display at Multan’s Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh, outplaying Navy 4-0 under flood-lit final.
Faisalabad will host the matches of a full-fledged Tier 1 national event after the lapse of 26 years when matches of annual event will be held at city, formerly known as Lyallpur and third largest city in Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore. NFCC allotted to Faisalabad for the second time after the third edition in 1985 that saw HBL lifting the title at Peoples Colony. The same venue hosted the 28th National Championship in 1980, with Karachi Red beating Army 5-1 in the Iqbal cricket stadia’s final.
Faisalabad also hosted the part of national events in 1993, 1994 (home matches of Crescent Textile Mills) and 2007 to 2010 (home matches of PMC Athletico). Faisalabad also hosted PFF League, a B-Division competition, in 2006 at Agriculture University Ground when PTV overcame PMC 4-0 in the final.
It is 21st event for departmental teams and fifth under title of National Football Challenge Cup, and third with sponsor of NBP. The event has been recharged after 2005 on instructions of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat.”It is purely an event for organizational and services team of Pakistan who used to appear in top-two Divisions of PFF viz Pakistan Premier League and PFF League. The event will dig out upcoming, talented players for us in the build up for the National and age-limit teams to take part in coming international assignments,” said Faisal who attended AFC EXCO Meet on Thursday, 17 March at Kuala Lumpur, and was chief guest when PTCL won the 2005 edition at Rawalpindi’s Army Sports Complex.
The 16 participants for NFCC 2011 will be titlist Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), National Champions Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Pakistan Army, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Navy, Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Lahore’s Pak Elektron Limited (PEL), Pakistan Television (PTV), Pakistan Air Force, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Pakistan Police, Pakistan Railways and host PMC Athletico Club Faisalabad.
The five stand-by teams are Pak Steel, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, Pakistan Public Works Department (PPWD), Ashraf Sugar Mills and Gwadar Port Authority (GPA).
“The reinstallation of event for departmental teams is a healthy sign and players will emerge from every niche of Pakistan. The way PFF Chief is promoting soccer was unheard before on this soil and his commitment, dedication was proved yet again as Faisalabad football followers will enjoy top soccer show. TSG too anxiously waiting for coming show in order to gather and scout talented players for the future National Camps,” summed up PFF Secretary General Lt.Col ® Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi.
Champions of National Football Challenge Cup (NFCC) 1979-2010
4 : Allied Bank Limited
2 : Pakistan Army, Faisalabad’s Crescent Textile Mills, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, Khan Research Laboratories (KRL)
1 : Karachi Port Trust, Quetta’s Marker Club, National Bank of Pakistan, Frontier Constabulary, Habib Bank Limited, Pakistan International Airlines, Sindh Government Press, Pakistan Navy.