KARACHI: Football fever has gripped Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as the sports extravaganza Ufone Football Cup is in full swing in both the provinces simultaneously.
The regional teams are engaged in fierce face-offs to secure slots in the ‘Eliminator’ round before they can make their way to the upcoming knock out stages; Super 8s, semifinals and finals.
Two matches were played under the Balochistan leg of the tournament. DFA Kalat met DFA Mastung at Mir Ghous Baksh Bazinjo Stadium in Khuzdar where a large number of football enthusiasts had gathered to catch the action live.
Both were unrelenting in their pursuit of success but the efforts of DFA Kalat paid off early as their key player Riaz scored the first goal in the 26th minute. The team’s domination was reinforced by another beautiful goal from Ghulam in the 58th minute. Jamil cemented his team’s grip on the match by scoring the third goal in the 65th minute.
DFA Mastung found their form in the 79th minute where Siraj scored for his team but it was already too late to stage a comeback and they conceded the match 3-1 to Kalat.
DFA Surab and DFA Lasbella faced off in the other match played at the same venue. The teams fought it out for the entire stipulated time but no goals could be scored. The game was then decided on penalty strokes.
DFA Surab scored two goals on their turn but DFA Lasbella emerged as the better side by scoring three goals to clinch the victory.
Meanwhile, the KP leg of the tournament is quickly catching up with equal excitement for both players and spectators.
On Thursday, DFA Kohat faced DFA Hangu at Kohat Sports Complex.
DFA Kohat player Zia Khan had the ball meet the net in the 15th minute into the match. He sent the crowd into frenzy by scoring another exciting goal just 3 minutes later to put his team in command.
His teammate Tanveer scored the third and decisive goal to seal the win for his team in the 27th minute.
DFA Hungu, despite their persistent efforts, could not recover and lost the match 3-0.
The winners of Balochistan and KP legs of the tournament will play a super final in Peshawar on December 3.
The Ufone Football Cup has gotten a major excitement boost as the KP leg of the tournament also kick-started on Monday.
Over 2,000 players in 144 teams are participating in the Balochistan and KP editions of the tournament, with each giving a respective titleholder to contest in an exciting super final in Peshawar on Dec 3.
Meanwhile, regional teams are engaged in fierce face-offs at the qualifiers round, with each of them firing on full cylinders. DFA Sibi continued its winning streak by downing DFA Ziyarat by 3-0 on Monday in a match played at its home ground Crook Stadium, Sibbi.
Shakeel of DFA Sibbi scored the first goal of the match in the 40th minute. Their domination was solidified by Zakir Ali who scored two back-to-back goals in the 47th and 59th minute of the game. DFA Ziyarat couldn’t stage a comeback in the game.
On Tuesday, DFA Jafferabad met DFA Bolan at Railway Ground Dera Murad Jamali. The two teams launched continuous attacks against one another but in vain.
The teams being an equal match for one another kept spectators on the edges of their seats during the entire match, which was eventually decided on penalty strokes. DFA Jafferabad took the game away by scoring 4 goals against DFA Bolan’s 2.
At the same time, the KP leg of the tournament started with a blast at the Besakee Stadium Dera Ismail Khan on Monday. Thousands of excited spectators thronged the stadium to catch the live action between two capable teams; Aatish Tank and Dera 11.
The competition intensified with every passing minute as the teams continued to launch as well as foil blistering attacks on respective goalposts. No goal could be scored during the stipulated time therefore the game was decided on penalty kicks.
DFA Aatish excelled at this phase and won this match 4-3, to a deafening cheer and applause from the stands.
On the next day, DFA Bannu and DFA Lukki Marwat faced off at Hashnai Kalay Football Ground in Bannu. The teams fought ferociously but once again the match ended without a score on both sides.
The game was eventually decided on penalty kicks. The teams chose their best strikers to shoulder the responsibility of taking their teams further in the tournament but DFA Bannu eventually emerged as the better side to clinch the match 3-2.
The tournament will continue during the entire month of November with both Balochistan and KP editions moving through the Super 8s, semifinals, and regional finals stages to choose their respective winners. Both the regional winners will finally meet for a super final in Peshawar on Dec 3.
All semifinals and finals will be broadcast live from PTV Sports. The tournament is an extension of Ufone’s commitment to fostering social wellbeing, particularly by helping engender a younger generation with sound bodily and mental health.