Army go second as ZTBL stay alive in PPFL
KARACHI: Pakistan Army moved up to second in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) standings after a 2-0 victory against Pakistan Navy on Sunday as Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) defeated Afghan FC 3-1 to virtually secure top-tier football next season.
Army’s victory meant defending champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) have to wait until Monday to seal the PPFL title.
A result other than victory for Army would have seen KRL secure their third successive crown but Tariq Lutfi’s outfit now need at least a draw against National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) on Monday for yet more celebrations in a season which has seen them lose just one match.
Army have 57 points from 27 games, one ahead of both Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) and Muslim FC who both have played 28 matches each.
Army defender Shahid Zamir was the star of the show in the first-half here at the PNS Karsaz Ground as he kept the sailors largely at bay with some good tackles and vital interceptions.
The breakthrough for Army came in the 57th minute when Ansar Abbas got past the Navy back-line and calmly slotted the ball home before Mohammad Rizwan scored with an exquisite strike in the 89th to seal all three points.
At the other end of the table, Hikmatullah starred with a brace as ZTBL overcame Afghan FC at the Government High School Ground in Chaman.
Victory meant ZTBL moved to 27 points, three clear of PMC Athletico, who occupy the final relegation spot with one game of the season left to play.
Only a dramatic turn of events would see ZTBL relegated as PMC require a healthy victory and hope their fellow strugglers lose by a big margin to have any hope of staying up.
Hikmatullah scored his first goal in the 68th; four minutes after Hanif Khan had given ZTBL the lead following a barren first-half that had seen Afghan FC create most of the chances through Mohammad Wali.
Afghan FC did score in the 77th through Mohammad Ali but Hikmatullah scored his second seven minutes later to secure all three points for the bankers.
There was also an entertaining mid-table clash between a resurgent Habib Bank Limited (HBL) side and Wapda here at the People’s Football Stadium on Sunday which ended in a 2-2 draw.
HBL, who were in danger of relegation just two weeks ago, took the lead through Zakir Lashari as early as the seventh minute but Wapda replied in the 20th through Mohammad Ahmed.
Ahmed then scored his second in the 57th to give Wapda the lead but HBL made sure of a point when Mohammad Ibrahim scored the leveller five minute later.
Wapda now have 31 points from 27 matches to stay one behind HBL who have played two games more.
Monday’s fixtures: Baloch FC v Wohaib FC (Noushki Football Stadium, Noushki); NBP v KRL (KPT Football Stadium, Karachi).