by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Being a footballer from a troubled province means one has to be resilient and Quetta players proved that in the Balochistan Cup 2016 quarter-final as they won 8-2 against Jafarabad at the Ayub Stadium in Quetta.
The players and officials, both from Quetta and other cities, managed to keep the show going as they resumed the Balochistan Cup matches after a two-day break for mourning the victims of the Civil Hospital blast that left more than 70 dead and around 100 injured.
“We have to overcome fear, we can’t be scared for too long,” Quetta’s striker Istaqlal Khan told The Express Tribune after the match. “The spirit of all the players is great, we are keeping ourselves composed; we are trying to have some normalcy with football.”
The 22-year-old contributed with two goals in a massive win against Jafarabad and believes that his team needs to win the tournament to keep their spirits high and stay connected with every player on the circuit in Balochistan.
“The spirit is to stay in touch, stay sensitive to each other and not let terrorism take over us,” said Istaqlal. “We are in constant contact with each other in case anyone needs anything. We can only overcome terrorism together through sports here.”
Behram Khan also scored a hat-trick in the match; Nazir Ahmed scored two goals, while Rajab Ali also contributed with one goal.
Jafarabad’s captain Abid Ali scored two goals for his team.
Loralai defeated Khuzdar 3-0 in the first quarter-final of the day, Azizullah scored a brace and Mohammed Ali sealed the win for the team.
According to match official Samad Baloch, the players have been living in a sealed compound at the Ayub Stadium secured by the army.
“The fear is there and we can feel it. Quetta football fans are too sad to enjoy anything,” said Baloch. “Previously, we had around 4,000 people coming to watch these matches, and today it was 300 at most.”
Meanwhile, Loralai team official Riaz Bashir Ahmed said his players are also focusing on the game and they are unperturbed by the attack.