Lahore: Not surprisingly, the defending Champion PIA claims the National Hockey Champion title after defeating National Bank of Pakistan in a heart punching penalty shootout 4 – 3.
PIA which won the previous two titles at Karachi and Sialkot respectively seemed determined to perform a hat-trick and eventually achieved the objective in a penalty shoot-out after a full time goalless draw.
In the first few minutes, PIA made a couple of good inroads and forced two penalty corners in succession. NBP goal keeper Mazhar Abbas made a good save with stretched leg.
Thereafter, NBP had more of the play in the first half. They made far more entries into the circle, had a few chances but didn’t have an attempt on the goal. The tempo of the game was slow on most of the occasion due to long term ball possession and aimless shooting.
In the second half as well, the younger NBP side remained in ascendancy for most of the time without complete domination. The bankers made a good open play attempt and off their second PC in the 36th minute, Abu Bakr’s forceful and well directed push was brilliantly saved by the PIA net minder Imran Butt.
Frustration crept up and some rash play was witnessed. PIA’s Shafqat Rasool in the 37th minute and NBP’s Atiq in the dying minutes were shown yellow cards.
The fitter bankers had a few good chances in the last quarter. They had best opportunity to finish the match in the last minute. Imran Butt, who had a fantastic game affected two wonderful saves off field attempts.
The penalty shootout went to the wire. NBP, who started, failed to find the target in the first two shoot outs while the PIA did. Bankers were successful in the last three while PIA had wasted the fourth. Hence, it was 3-3, when PIA’s Kashif Ali stepped in for the last shoot out. He was successful and the joyous PIA squad went wild.