Friday November 26, 2021

Wapda to face NBP in National Hockey final

November 20, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Wapda and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Thursday cantered into the final of the 66th National Hockey Championship, recording narrow wins in the unexciting semi-finals here at the MPCL Ground.

NBP were lucky to squeeze home in sudden-death shootout while Wapda netted through experienced Umer Bhutta in the 47th minute to reach the decider.

In both the encounters, quality of the game was missing as the forwards completely failed to make combined moves till the end.

It was Muhammad Dilbar who saved NBP blushes with a sudden-death penalty stroke conversion as he defeated Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) goalkeeper to the delight of the NBP bench.

Both the teams were locked at 2-2 in the scheduled time, after the five-a-side shootout and again at 1-1 after the two sudden-death strikes. Dilbar converted for NBP while Rana Sohail missed for SSGC.

Hamza Waheed and Adeel scored for SSGC during the scheduled five-a-side shootout with Abu Bakar and Shan Irshad scoring for the opponents. Adeel again scored for SSGC in the sudden-death shootout with Arsalan Qadir pulling back the equalizer, leaving it for Dilbar to score the winner.

“I admit that game’s standard was not up to the mark. All the players looked rusty as they hardly got the opportunity to play matches because of Covid-19. I still believe we could have won the match in scheduled time as we dominated early exchanges but at the same time we were lucky to have scored the equaliser in the last minutes of play,” NBP head coach Tahir Zaman said.

NBP scored the opener through penalty corner specialist Abu Bakar in the 17th minute while SSGC bounced back with two goals in the second quarter with Mubashir Ali and Ali Shan making it 2-1.

“A win is a win. However, I have to admit that we will have to play much better if we want to win the title on Friday (today),” Tahir added.

Meanwhile, Navy failed to capitalise on the opportunities coming their way in the second semi-final as they lost 0-1 against Wapda.

The all-important goal for Wapda came from a fine move that saw Ijaz Ahmed cutting through two defenders to send a reverse flick pass to Umer Bhutta, who deflected the ball into the net in the 47th minute.

“Navy surely are an emerging team as yet again they proved their worth. We hoped to get an early ascendency but were denied the lead by spirited Navy’s defense. We also missed some close chances, especially in the second quarter,” Wapda head coach Waqas Sharif said.

Navy’s goalkeeper Adil Rao gave a good account of himself and kept Wapda forwards at bay, especially on counter-attacks.

“We are expecting a close final against defending champions NBP, who have the firepower and experience. At the same time, I am confident Wapda will dethrone them,” Waqas said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Mohammad Usman Dar was the chief guest at the first semi-final while National Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri was the chief guest at the second semi-final.