LAHORE: The first quarterfinal of the PFF Cup 2016 between Pakistan Army and Faisalabad’s Bhatti United turned out to be a disappointing affair in terms of tactical quality and style. A boring, long-ball dominated match did not please the spectators hoping for a thriller as Army won 1-0 late at Raiders FC Ground in Faisal Town, Lahore.
From the start, it was certain that neither side wanted to take risks and played safe by just thumping balls into the opposition halves and not keeping meaningful possession. Army skipper Ansar Abbas scored the lone goal in 85th minute by heading in a cross from substitute winger Ghulam Rasool to make the Soldiers reach the semis and take his personal tally to 3 goals in the PFF Cup 2016.
Match referee was Habibullah with linesmen Younas Lal and Shahid Hussain, fourth official Irshad ul Haq and match commissioner Abdul Shakoor Baloch.
After the game, both sides’ managers spoke to the media. Bhatti United’s founder and manager Rana Ashraf was extremely pleased with his young team despite the loss. He took pride in the fact that Bhatti United not only managed to qualify for the PFF Cup final round for the first time but also reached quarterfinals where they held former national champions Army at bay for most of the game by sticking to a set game plan until Ansar Abbas’ winner.
Army team manager Major Shafqat Mehmood stated that since most of his players are from Faisalabad and had prior experience with Bhatti United’s squad, their similar long ball styles meant a very even first half. Maj Shafqat said the team changed their plans in 2nd half by involving wing play to breach the Bhatti United defences that led to the late goal. He promised that in the semi-finals the Soldiers will play attacking football with a will to win knowing they face either SSGC or NBP, and both sides have some experienced technical players.
The 2nd quarterfinal between Karachi United FC and Pakistan Air Force will take place at Raiders Ground in Faisal Town tomorrow (16 February 2016) with 1400 hrs kickoff.
All info from PFF Cup Media Coordinator Riaz Ahmed