KARACHI: National Bank came from behind to hold Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) to a 1-1 draw, while the clash between Navy and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) ended in a goalless stalemate at the 9th Pakistan Premier Football League here on Sunday.
In Rawalpindi, two-time defending champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) beat former champions Army 1-0 after a tight game.
Here at the People’s Sports Complex, the KESC-NBP game truly excited the spectators with both sides playing vigorously.
In the first half, KESC fully dominated the game but failed to capitalise on a few chances.
A couple of pile-drivers from KESC’s dashing striker Mohammad Rasool went off the target. Rasool, who also plays for Pakistan senior team, has something of a great striker but his coaches will have to work on his accuracy.
Rasool’s fellow striker Mohammad Moosa, playing for the first time at that position, remained off-colour. In the 28th minute, young midfielder Mohammad Riaz failed to convert an easy chance.
A moment latter, Riaz found Rasool on the right flank but the latter’s drive was smartly gathered by National Bank’s keeper Mohammad Omar.
Soon after a goalless first half, keeper Jehangir Khan saved KESC from a blow when he collected a close-range drive from Farooq Shah, who had missed his team’s previous match against KPT due to suspension.
Following a few incisive rallies, Mohammad Riaz put KESC ahead with a super field goal in the 63rd minute. However, they failed to keep pressure on the bankers who were attacking from both wings.
International midfielder Faisal Iqbal brought an equaliser for National Bank with a 77th minute strike.
After the equaliser, both sides made concerted efforts but failed to add to their tallies.
In the dying moments, KESC skipper Mohammad Essa’s pile-driver was acrobatically gathered by keeper Mohammad Omar and soon after that came the final whistle. “We missed a few chances. Our defence did not play the way it should have,” KESC skipper Mohammad Essa told ‘The News’. “Rasool had a few nice drives gone off the target. Moosa on the other hand looked unimpressive because he was playing for the first time in the frontline position,” former Pakistan captain said.
“The ground is also not good and we have written twice to the PFF that our home ground is KPT Stadium. We have already made payment to their administration but I don’t know why they have fixed our home matches here,” added Essa.
NBP coach Nasir Ismail was satisfied with his team’s performance. “We did not play good game in the first half but after the interval, the players followed my instructions which went in our favour as we at least held the rivals to a draw,” said Nasir. Both KESC and National Bank have five points each from three meetings now.
At the KPT Stadium, Habib Bank held Navy to a goalless draw. “It was a balanced match and our keeper Sajid Hussain was excellent under the cage,” HBL manager Yousuf Khan said. Navy’s coach Lt Commander Mehfooz said that both the teams played really well. “I think both the teams played excellent football. We missed a few chances but it’s part of the game and we will try to raise our performance,” Mehfooz remarked.
HBL opened their account with one point from two games, while Navy inflated their tally to four points from three meetings.
At the Army Stadium in Rawalpindi, KRL produced their third straight win when they outgunned Army 1-0 to take their points to nine from three matches. International striker Mohammad Qasim scored the winner in the 45th minute.
At the Sadiq Shaheed Stadium in Quetta, the match between Afghan FC and Baloch FC was abandoned due to heavy rain.
Today’s fixture: KPT v PIA (KPT Stadium, Karachi).