KARACHI: Four-time Premier League winners WAPDA on Monday defeated Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) 2-0 to qualify for the final of the PFF National Challenge Cup here at the KPT Sports Complex.
In the first semi-final, witnessed by a sizeable crowd, WAPDA got onto the score-sheet in the 14th minute through Ahmed Fahim. Usman Manzoor, who played as a striker, doubled the lead in the 29th minute.
WAPDA’s assistant coach Tanvir Ahmed said his boys played top quality football. “Our boys played really well,” Tanvir told ‘The News’. “We played Usman today as a striker, which paid dividend. In the last match we had played him in the midfield and in one game we had rested him. So we play him according to the need,” said Tanvir, a former international defender.
He said PPL made mistakes in the deep which helped them get the upper hand. “PPL players are skilled but they opted for playing with long ball which is our style and there they faced problem,” Tanvir said.
PPL assistant coach Zahid Hameed said they conceded bad goals. “We conceded both bad goals due to our goalkeeper’s and defenders’ mistakes. You know going 0-2 down in the early stage of a game is not good as it is difficult to make a comeback from there,” Zahid said.
“Some of our players had also got sick due to hot weather during the last few days. So we had problems. But still it’s a good effort that on our debut we qualified for the semi-finals. Now we have a chance to finish third as we will play the bronze medal game on Wednesday,” said Zahid, a former captain of Pakistan’s Olympic team.
He praised WAPDA’s keeper Muzammil Hussain for his acrobatic display. “Muzammil denied us three solid chances,” Zahid said. PPL, formed recently, have mostly players from backward districts of Balochistan. The players were selected from the PPL Balochistan Cup organised during the last two years.
The second semi-final will be held on Tuesday (today) between the 2014 winners Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and newly formed Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) at the same venue. The match starts at 4pm.
The final will be held on May 10. The event is being organised after a gap of three years. Pakistan’s newly hired Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira has been witnessing the matches to shortlist players for the national team camp to prepare for this year’s Asian Games and SAFF Cup.The Asian Games will be held in August and September in Indonesia. SAFF Cup will be conducted in Bangladesh in September.