The 12th Pakistan Premier Football League 2018 – Multan leg witnessed an interesting encounter at the Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium last night 2nd October.
The 8:30 PM kick-off saw former winners Pakistan Army take on a star-studded Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) featuring many Pakistan national team internationals like striker Saadullah, midfielders Saddam Hussain and Bilawal-ur-Rehman, and full-back Ahsanullah Khan and goalkeeper Ahsanullah.
With former Pakistan number 1 Jaffar Khan again in goal, young international Shahbaz Younas in defence and former Pakistan U21 Anser Abbas marshaling the midfield for Army, the match promised to be a thrilling encounter at least on paper.
Both sides looked for their first win of the season. Army had played a 1-1 draw with 10-man WAPDA on opening day 25 September whilst SSGC drew blank with Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) on 28 September.
However, the match was largely confined to midfield with limited chances as both teams struggled to keep possession owing to bumpy uneven pitch showing increased signs of wear and tear due the PPFL Multan leg matches.
After a goalless first half, it was eventually Army who took the lead in 61st minute. Ali Raza found himself on the left and cut inside to find Muhammad Afzaal who exploited gaping holes in SSGC defence to force a save from Ahsanullah, before Mateen Tariq smashed home the rebound to make it 1-0 for the Soldiers.
SSGC struggled to break Army’s defence and test Jaffar Khan, with Army happy to absorb the pressure and looking for counterattacking opportunities.
With time running out, SSGC won a free kick just outside the box and Saadullah’s ball landed perfectly for a team-mate in the Army box to a score, but the linesman ruled him offside as the match ended with another 90 minutes of no SSGC goals.
The result means SSGC continue to struggle in trying to challenge for the PPFL title as arguably the strongest side that won promotion via a special play-off thrashing Gwadar Port Authority 7-1 on 17 September in Lahore. Army would be pleased with their young squad looking to impress with their hard work ethic.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) vs Ashraf Sugar Mills game was also postponed as PIA’s financial woes continue with no immediate indication yet if they will join the other teams in Multan.
Tonight, 3 October fixtures see KPT face K-Electric and WAPDA vs Afghan FC Chaman.
KARACHI: Army recorded their first win as they beat Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 1-0 in their second round fixture of the 12th Pakistan Premier Football League at the Qasim Bagh Stadium in Multan on Tuesday night.
After a barren but action-packed first half, Matee Nasir finally hit the winner in the 61st minute for former champions Army.“It was a tough match,” SSGC coach Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
“Army were in great form. Our team also played tough game but we were unlucky to concede the goal. The energy level of three of our top players who remained with Pakistan team for three months was not that good and it went against us,” the coach said.
Saddam Hussain, Mehmood Khan and Saadullah remained engaged with the Pakistan team during the Asian Games and SAFF Cup held recently.SSGC, who were held by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) in their opener, got the chance to play in the top-tier league after performing well in the qualifiers.
Despite the unimpressive start, Tariq remains confident. “It is just the start and I am very much hopeful that our team will come into rhythm soon,” he said.Tariq was not with his side in the first match because he was in Portugal, accompanying Pakistan’s side during the Socca World Cup.