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January 14, 2019

KRL outplay SSGC in PPFL to clinch 5th title


January 14, 2019

Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Top fitness level eventually yielded result when Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) proved everyone wrong to crush strong Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 4-0 to clinch their record fifth title as the 12th Pakistan Premier Football League concluded here at KPT Stadium on Sunday.

KRL needed a win by minimum four goals. And they achieved their target thanks to double from Izharullah and one goal apiece from Iftikhar and Junaid. Both KRL and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) finished the season with 51 points each. They were also tied on 40 goal-average. But KRL had conceded 12 goals and PAF had conceded 13 goals. The same difference, as per rules, helped KRL to wear their record fifth crown.

Their other titles came in 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. WAPDA have four crowns to their credit which they claimed in 2004-05, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11 season. The last league game, which had acquired the status of a final, turned out to be a one-sided affair due to horrible performance from the SSGC's defence.

KRL began the game with fast pace and soon went ahead when Iftikhar hit a solid goal in the tenth minute. KRL kept the pressure and in the 20th minute doubled their lead when Izharullah sneaked past SSGC’s defence before nudging the ball into the far post past the diving SSGC gloveman. Six minutes later Junaid added to the misery of SSGC when his pile-driver from inside the area went into the cage. At half time KRL were leading 3-0. Six minutes into the second half Izharullah completed his brace through a special header which also proved decisive for the Rawalpindi-based side. “It was something unbelievable,” the ecstatic KRL coach Sajjad Mehmood told 'The News' after his team’s magical win.

“This was our fifth title and we will keep lifting crowns in future too. But I would request the top football authorities to settle the dispute so that our team could also be given international exposure. If you don’t give international exposure to the players it would also go against Pakistan team's interest,” KRL sports official Ayaz Butt said. Butt said that his boys were in top physical shape that paid dividends. SSGC coach Tariq Lutfi blamed his defence for the defeat.

“Our defence flopped today,” Tariq said. SSGC, having several Pakistan’s players, had got promotion to the top-tier league through disputed qualifiers which had been introduced by the FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

Although Pakistan has been denied an AFC Cup slot this time by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) mainly due to club licensing issue the newly-emerged KRL will also not be able to appear in the same event even in 2020 if the football matter gets settled down because FIFA and AFC will not recognise this league.

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