Published in The News
KARACHI: Karachi Youth were crowned champions after they defeated hosts Abbottabad 2-1 in the final of the National Under-16 Football Championship at the Kunj Football Ground in Abbottabad on Tuesday.
Abbottabad broke the deadlock through a fine field effort from Shahzeb Khan in the 32nd minute.
At half time, the hosts were leading 1-0, but soon after the breather, the well-drilled Karachi Youth recovered as Shehzad brought the parity for them in the 54th minute.
Karachi Youth kept up the pressure by inflicting incisive rallies from both wings that paid dividends when they were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute and Obaid Asghar made no mistake from the spot to seal their victory.
“It’s a nice victory,” Karachi Youth coach Javed Soomro told ‘The News’ from Abbottabad. “The team played according to a plan. We defeated good teams like Sindh which had around ten international players,” said Javed. “Abbottabad were a sound side and also had home advantage but we were able to overcome the odds and race to victory,” said Javed.
This title victory comes after a gap of six years for Karachi who won the National Under-19 Championship under the supervision of coaches Nasir Ismail and Salim Patni in 2007. Earlier, Sindh edged Balochistan 1-0 to claim the bronze medal. Safeer Ahmed scored the winner in the 16th minute.
The tournament concluded with a colourful ceremony, graced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter senior vice-president Asif Zubair Sheikh.
Also present were secretary Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Col Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi, Director Development and Competitions Pervez Saeed Mir and secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association Basit Kamal.
The winners Karachi Youth were handed over a purse of Rs100,000, the runners-up Abbottaabd recieved Rs75,000, while the bronze medalists Sindh were given away Rs50,000. Punjab received the fair-play trophy and Rs15,000.
Similarly, Rs10,000 each was given away to Mohammad Riaz (best player, Karachi Youth), Muneer Munna (leading scorer, 5 goals, Sindh) and Mohammad Shoaib (best goalie, Sindh).
The four-member Technical Study Group (TSG) of the PFF shortlisted around 50 players for forming the national team for the forthcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship Qualifiers to be held at the People’s Sports Complex at the end of September.
Around one third of the 50 shortlisted players have already represented Pakistan at the international level. The TSG was represented by Nasir Ismail, Najeebullah Najmi, Ayaz Butt and Sajjad Mehmood.