KARACHI: With less than five minutes left on the clock, a trademark Sohail Abbas drag flick helped WAPDA beat SSGC 2-1 in the star-studded opening match of the 63rd National Hockey Championship at National Hockey Stadium in Lahore on Friday.
WAPDA, boasting a number of past and present internationals, started off strong and seemed the side most likely to open the scoring. However, their dominance reaped no rewards as the match remained goalless after the first 30 minutes.
They finally took the lead in the 38th minute as Asad Shabbir tapped the ball into the net, although their advantage evaporated just 11 minutes later when Kashif Shah scored from an indirect drill off of their third penalty corner.
Both sides searched for the winner, which came off the stick of 40-year-old Abbas, who converted a penalty corner to earn his team all three points.
In another match, debutants SNGPL went down 2-1 against Army.
Like the first match, this one too remained goalless for the first half an hour despite several impressive attacking manoeuvres.
Army broke the deadlock when their captain Muhammad Imran converted his team's third penalty corner with a powerful high-push.
Abbas Alam doubled the lead in the 36th minute before SNGPL found their sole strike in the 54th minute via Sheharyar Ali.
In the last match of the day, defending champions PIA outplayed Navy 3-1 as Haseem Khan, Waseem Akram and Zubair Ahmed all scored for them.
For Navy, Waqarul Haq scored a consolation in the 54th minute.
On Saturday, Police will face PTV, followed by WAPDA and NBP's clashes with PAF and Port Qasim Authority respectively.