Muhammad Zubair and Kashif Ali guided PIA to a 4-2 victory over Wapda in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout phase to lift the coveted trophy of the 61st PSO National Hockey Championship on Sunday at the Nawaz Sharif Stadium, Sialkot.
Both teams were level at full time and tried their luck in an unpredictable penalty shootout stage, where luck favoured PIA as national team goalkeeper Imran Butt blocked four Wapda goals.
Wapda entered the field in an aggressive mood as their forwards dominated the proceedings of the final since the starting whistle.
In the fifth minute, Tassawar Abbas created a chance for Umar Bhutta to score. They then earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the 14th minute. Muhammad Aleem doubled the lead after converting the second penalty.
In the 47th minute, PIA’s Shafqat Rasool took the ball inside Wapda’s circle and gave a pass to the experienced Zubair, who availed the opportunity to bring down the lead to 2-1, after which the PIA forwards pressed on and earned a penalty corner in the same minute which was successfully converted by Kashif Ali to level the score 2-2.
“We came up with some exceptional performances throughout the tournament, especially in the last matches which we won through penalty shootouts,” said PIA captain Ehsanullah.
Meanwhile, PIA goalkeeper Butt said his performance was motivated by coach Shahid Ali Khan’s hard work. “Our coach was the one who was with us through and through, which built a lot of confidence in us,” he said.
“Ours was a good mix of youth and experience as junior team player Ammad Butt was declared the player of the tournament,” added Butt. “This will definitely turn out well for the future of hockey.”
On the other hand, Wapda captain Imran Khan said he was far from being disappointed on losing as it was a fighting match. “We took the lead in the first two quarters, but lost some energy in the last two which resulted in a defeat.”