KARACHI: Defending champions Pakistan WAPDA and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) defeated their respective opponents in the semifinals to qualify for the final of the 33rd National Junior Hockey Championship at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here on Friday. The final will be played at the same venue on Saturday (today). Sindh Minister for Health Dr Saghir will be the chief guest.
A last minute goal by Mudassar Ali enabled WAPDA to beat Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) 3-2 in an electrified first semifinal. At a time when the spectators were expecting to watch an exciting drama in the thrilling shoot out session, and even PIA players were also showing signs of exhaustion in the dying moments of the match and might be planning to take the match into penalty shootout, Mudassar had different plans. In the last minute of the semifinal, forwards Mohammad Naveed and Mohammad Adnan initiated a move from the right side and entered into the D where Adnan’s hit was stopped by the goalkeeper and an unmarked Mudassar happily grabbed the opportunity and scored the goal on rebound.
After scoring the final goal, the WAPDA forwards exerted pressure and maintained it till the end. It was a wonderful victory for the defending champions who were two down when the match started in the third quarter. In the 31st minute Mohammad Naveed along with Mohammad Bilal Mehmood, who is till now the top scorer of the championship, made a fine move and Bilal struck a beautiful field goal. Four minutes later Mudassar scored his first goal on penalty corner. This bought WAPDA at par with PIA 2-2.
PIA demonstrated excellent game in the first two quarters through Abu Bakr who successfully converted a penalty corner in the 14th minute. In the 24th minute, Amir Ali scored the second goal for the airliners. Kamran Shafi and Ghufran Ahmed supervised the match. Both teams were introduced by the Sindh Hockey Association president and the chief guest former Olympian Shahid Ali Khan.
NBP successfully maintained their supremacy as they outclassed Punjab Colours 4-1 in the second semifinal. Both teams were expecting a tough contest but it turned out to be a one sided affair as the bankers dominated the proceedings throughout the stipulated time. They made spectacular moves, their sprints in the middle were amazing, and their possession of the ball was also excellent. While Punjab lacked in coordination and tackling the opposition. Their only moment of delight came in the 35th minute when Qasim Ahmed successfully converted a penalty corner. However, they failed to capitalise three penalty corners they got, in four minutes, in the last quarter of the match.
Forward Ali Raza gave a long pass to Waseem Akram in the 17th minute who slammed a fine field goal. In the 38th minute, Adeel’s lone effort earned a penalty corner which Shan Irshad beautifully struck. In the last minute of the third quarter, Khizer Akhtar launched a move and gave a pass to his captain Ateeq who netted the ball into the goal post on a rebound. The bankers scored their fourth goal in the 49th minute which was the result of a long pass he received inside the D and Adeef Latif beautifully deflected the ball in the net. Kamran MP and Atif Malik were umpires. Before the match the players and tournament officials were introduced with chief guest Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Siddiqui.
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