Sunday January 23, 2022

SSGC storm into Challenge Cup final

August 02, 2019

KARACHI: Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) moved into the final when they overpowered WAPDA 1-0 in a hard-fought semi-final of the National Football Challenge Cup 2019 at the Tehmas Khan Stadium, Peshawar on Thursday.

SSGC will be playing the final of a major domestic event for the first time after the outfit was strongly transformed from a mere team to a fighting unit under Tariq Lutfi, who made expensive inductions over the years.

Pakistan’s captain Saddam Hussain scored the lone goal in the 23rd minute. “It was no doubt a tough game,” Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ after the match. Karachi-based brigade under Tariq has been winning close matches in the 15-team event which has given the unit a real strength to perform under pressure. And Tariq admits this.

“It’s really the case,” said Tariq, also a former Pakistan coach. “We have been winning close matches so far. But today my team did a great job to beat strong WAPDA whose morale was very high after they outclassed defending champions Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 3-0 in the quarter-finals,” Tariq said.

“We had to call back our defender Mengal and made several changes but thanks God it did not harm us but rather benefited us and I am very happy that at least we have qualified for the final which is a great achievement. We also brought Saddam to the defence in the end,” Tariq said.

SSGC are missing a few players for the event because of suspension after they skipped the Islamabad camp and rather chose to represent Pakistan in the World Cup qualifiers first round against Cambodia. It was a tough game with either side making great efforts in hot conditions to create goal scoring chances.

WAPDA coach Tanvir Ahmed said his team had dominated the second half. “We were in full command in the second half. SSGC were totally defensive. We also scored a goal on rebound but that was disallowed by the referee,” Tanvir said.

“In the end light disruption issue for at least five minutes broke the tempo. But overall it was a fair game. The only difference was that we had mostly juniors in our side while they had experienced players,” said Tanvir, also a former Pakistan’s defender.

SSGC will now face the winners of the second semi-final which will be played between six-time winners Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and Army on Friday (today).

The final will be held on Sunday, while on Saturday (tomorrow) the match for the third position will be held between WAPDA and the losers of the second semi-final. Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Army defeated Navy 2-0 in the fourth quarter-final to set date with KRL in the pre-final. Both goals came in extra time with seasoned striker Ansar Abbas scoring in the 102nd minute and Zil Hasnain firing one in the 113th minute.