Sports Correspondent – DAWN
KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) played out a goalless draw against Sheikh Russel KC in their opening game of the AFC President’s Cup at Colombo’s Sugathadasa Stadium, according to the information received here on Wednesday.
With both teams favourites to advance from Group ‘A’, it was a cagey affair with both teams missing the few opportunities that came their way.
KRL captain Kamran Khan came closest to breaking the deadlock when his header cannoned off the post while Zia-us-Salam and Rizwan Asif also missed chances for the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions.
“It was a good match as Sheikh Russel are technically very sound,” KRL head-coach Tariq Lutfi told Dawn after the match. “However, the conditions didn’t favour us as we had to play in driving rain.”
The draw means KRL and Sheikh Russel both trail group leaders and hosts Air Force SC of Sri Lanka by two points with all teams having played their opening games.
Air Force SC were 1-0 winners over Bhutan’s Ugyen Academy in the opening game of the group after Nipuna Bandara scored the decisive goal in the 68th minute.
Last season’s losing finalists KRL next play Ugyen Academy on Friday before rounding off their preliminary group stage campaign in Asia’s third-tier club tournament with a clash against Air Force SC on Sunday.
The top two teams from the group will secure a berth in the playoffs for the AFC Cup next season and advance to the final round of the President’s Cup where they will be joined by the top two finishers in groups ‘B’ and ‘C’.
The six teams will then be divided into two groups of three with the winners from each section advancing to the final.