LAHORE – Sindh annexed PFF National Under-15 Football Championship trophy by beating Punjab by 4-1 on penalty kicks in the final played here at the Punjab Football Stadium on Tuesday.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat graced the concluding ceremony as chief guest and later, he along with PFF vice president and Punjab FA president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan and secretary Col (R) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi, head coach Joze Noguiera, Pakistan football team captain Saddam Hussain, physical trainer Beto Portella and Sindh FA secretary Rahim Baloch, distributed prizes among top performers of the event. Earlier, Sports Board Punjab Director General Amir Jan was introduced with the players prior to start of the final.
The first half of the final was dominated by Punjab as they banged in both the goals through Wasif (5th minute) and Hammad (45+2 minute) to take 2-0 lead. Later in the second half, Sindh bounced back in great style as they first reduced the deficit to 2-1 through Mohib Ullah in the 53rd minute while converted the equalizer in the 66th minute through Amir.
After that, both the teams tried their best to fire in the match-winning goal but both failed to convert a single one as the match ended at 2-2 in the regular time. The match referee then awarded five penalty kicks to both the teams, where Sindh fired in four out of five while Punjab could convert only one. Earlier, Islamabad outclassed Balochistan by 2-0 to secure third position.
Winning team Sindh was awarded Rs 300,000, runners-up Punjab got Rs 200,000 while third position holder Islamabad earned Rs 100,000. The fair play trophy with Rs 40,000 was awarded to Fata, best player Bismillah Khan (Balochistan) got Rs 40,000, top scorer Mudassar Nazir (Sindh) and best goalkeeper M Awais (Punjab) received Rs 30,000 each.
Talking to media after the final, PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat said: “Youth competitions are nursery for national football. No country can get fresh talent for the future without development of the game at grassroots level. The PFF is providing every opportunity to junior footballers. Emerging stars have been spotted in this event. The players’ pool will be looked after well and good facilities await these youngsters.
The PFF chief said that these players will take Pakistan football on the rise. He also assured them of his all-out support. “After a gap of more than three years, Pakistan national team performed very well in the Asian Games and then in SAFF Championship by beating the teams having much higher world football rankings,” he added.
Faisal appealed to the government to give support to Pakistan football. “The PFF has planned to hold bilateral football series in 2019. PTV is a national television channel and it should cover football activities of national team and top local football activities,” he added.