by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: Mohammad Adil’s trickery and tenacity was too hot to handle for Pakistan Navy.
In a breathtaking performance, the Pakistan international winger single-handedly took Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) into the quarter-finals of the NBP President’s Cup, setting up both goals in their 2-0 victory over Navy here at the KPT Stadium on Friday.
“I had a good match but I think I should’ve got on the scoresheet as well,” Adil, who returned to KRL last year after two years with Kyrgyz giants FC Dordoi, told Dawn after the match.
“This is a good win for the team and hopefully it sets us on the way to lift another trophy,” added Adil, who helped KRL to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Cup and the All Pakistan Malik Salahuddin Memorial Tournament titles since his return.
KRL’s victory also restored the order for the country’s top teams after a raft of upsets from second-division teams threatened to steal the limelight in the 12-team tournament.
Earlier, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) stunned Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) side Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) 2-1 to join fellow second-division side Karachi United in the last eight.
United had booked their spot with a sensational 2-0 win over top-tier Wapda on Thursday.
SNGPL’s victory saw them take K-Electric with them into the quarter-finals from Group ‘C’ with the two teams facing off on Sunday to decide who advances as group winners.
KRL advanced from Group ‘B’ alongside Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and they also clash on Sunday in a battle for top spot in the section.
And with their talisman Adil in form, they would be confident of finishing as group winners.
Adil was a constant menace on the right for Navy and KRL could’ve won with a greater margin if their finishing had been on song early in the game.
Zia-us-Salam shot wide with the goal at his mercy after being put through by Adil and striker Murtuza Hussain headed over after another delightful cross from Adil in the opening 25 minutes.
But Murtuza made no mistake on his second chance in the 28th minute when a quick pass from Adil caught the Navy defence, who appealed for off-side, and he dinked the ball over the goalkeeper to open the scoring.
KRL were wasteful again after taking the lead with but they sealed the result a minute into the second half when Adil whipped in a cross from the left and substitute Mohammad Imran was on hand to bundle it in with a header at the far post.
With the game all but over, Adil indicated he wanted to be subbed but KRL kept him on for the full match where they were thwarted by the Navy goalkeeper from further extending their lead.
“A number of our players haven’t had much game time recently and I wanted them to get some practice ahead of the next games but the team management wanted me to stay on till the end,” he said.
Imran had a great chance to get his second on the hour mark but squared the ball rather than shooting when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Navy, who lost 2-0 to SSGC in their opening match on Wednesday, tried to get back in the game and revive their tournament hopes but could not find a way past KRL and their goalkeeper Saqib Hanif.
“I think it was a complete performance from our team,” Saqib, who has returned from a short stint in the Maldives, told Dawn. “We were dominant throughout.”
While KRL’s victory was an expected one, PIA’s ouster was a complete surprise.
PIA were a shadow of the side which fought so valiantly against K-Electric but ultimately fell to a 2-1 defeat in their opener and fell behind in the 57th minute when Sadabahar scored.
Shakir Lashari, who scored in PIA’s opening defeat, levelled matters in the 75th but Owais Riasat secured a historic win for SNGPL when he scored in injury time.