KARACHI: Holders Pakistan Air Force (PAF), WAPDA and Army qualified for the quarter-finals of Football Challenge Cup at Lahore on Wednesday.
WAPDA, who lost to PAF 0-2, were lucky to make it to the last-eight stage as the controversial rules formed by the PFF competition committee for the event benefited them. Their close rivals Habib Bank Limited (HBL) crushed Railways 5-1.
HBL and WAPDA finished with six points each in Group C. Their goal-average was also plus two each. As per competitions rules, WAPDA were placed in the quarter-finals because of their 3-0 win over HBL in the round game.
Interestingly, HBL celebrated their entry into the quarter-finals as their officials were thinking that they had scored six goals and conceded four, while WAPDA had scored four and conceded two. They thought that on the basis of number of goals they had reached the knockout stage.
But a top PFF official said that as per rules framed for the event WAPDA qualified for the quarter-finals. “The HBL officials should have read the rules,” he said.
HBL manager Yousuf Khan was shocked. “As per FIFA and AFC rules we should have been in the quarter-finals as we scored more goals than WAPDA did. The authorities should have followed international rules,” Yousuf said.
“I am thinking of lodging an appeal before the competition committee. The second option is to file a petition in a court of law,” Yousuf said.
A former FIFA referee said he had not read the rules of the Challenge Cup but as per FIFA rules HBL should have been in the quarter-finals.
PAF outclassed WAPDA 2-0 at Model Town Ground to make it to the knock-out stage. Mujahid put PAF ahead in the 14th minute. International Mansoor Khan doubled their lead in the 32nd minute.
In the quarter-finals on Friday (tomorrow), PAF face Group B runners-up Army and WAPDA take on Group B winners Navy.
PAF manager Mohammad Arshad said they outclassed WAPDA. “Our players played outstanding football,” he said.
Arshad claimed that his team had a good chance in the quarter-final against Army. “The players are in fine touch and if we don’t squander chances we will beat Army,” he said.
HBL whipped Railways to end third in their group at Faisal Town Ground. Saeed hit two goals in the first half. Atif, Khayal Muhammad and Nouman scored one each. Usman had put Railways ahead in the sixth minute.
In a Group B show, at Railways Stadium, Army defeated KPT 2-1 with Ansar Abbas and Masood Ahmed scoring one goal apiece. Zahid Ahmed struck the lone goal for KPT on penalty in the 29th minute.
KPT Sports Manager Shah Naeem Zafar blasted referees for his team’s defeat. “Three decisions of referees went against us. I am surprised why referee Tauqeer is posted when Army play against us. The assistant referee also made blunders; he should be suspended,” Shah said.
Today’s fixtures: Quarter-finals: PIA v K-E (Railways Stadium, Lahore), KRL v NBP (Faisal Town Ground, Lahore).