KARACHI: Heavy rains in the country brought along with them a flurry of goals as the Pakistan Premier Football League kicked off on Wednesday.
Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) kicked off their Pakistan Premier League title defence with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Pakistan Air Force (PAF) but their celebrations were marred by injuries to their attacking spearhead Kaleemullah and their goalkeeper Shahid.
Meanwhile, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) played out a 1-1 draw, Wapda beat PMC Athletico 1-0 and Pakistan Navy won 2-1 over Karachi Port Trust (KPT).
Under torrential rains at the Jinnah Football Stadium in Islamabad, Hasnain Abbas gave KRL the lead in the ninth minute. With tackles flying under the downpour, PAF were reduced to ten men when Mohammad Asif was given his marching orders in the 40th.
Despite having a man down, PAF managed to equalise when Mohammad Mujahid scored in the 77th but Ehsanullah sealed all three points for KRL when he scored in the 90th.
KRL coach Tariq Lutfi blamed the rain which had resulted in injuries to his key players. “We dominated the game but the rain had made the pitch virtually unplayable,” Lutfi told Dawn. “Kaleemullah received seven stitches for the resulting injury but we are optimistic he will be back in action soon.”
However, Lutfi said that his side missed numerous chances to score.
“Had it not been for the rain, we could’ve scored four to five goals,” he added.
Rains in Karachi had an opposite effect on NBP with coach Nasir Ismail saying that it had helped improve the mood of his players in their match against KESC at the Aga Khan Gymkhana Ground.
“The rain helped the players as instead of sweltering heat, the weather enabled them to run more and play better,” Nasir told Dawn.
Striker Misbah had given NBP the lead in the 29th but the Bankers were down to ten men when their midfielder Farooq Shah was sent off for a foul on Jalil.
“It was not a deliberate foul by Farooq,” Nasir said. “He clattered him in his follow-through as he was going for the ball.
“It was quite unfortunate that Farooq’s absence ultimately allowed KESC to equalise.”
KESC’s Aurangzaib rescued a point for his side when he scored in the 88th.
In the other match here at the KPT Football Stadium, Sajjad and Farhan scored in the 7th and the 53rd respectively to give Navy a 2-0 lead. A strike by KPT’s Naveed Ahmed in the 70th was little more than consolation for the hosts.
At Lahore’s Railways Football Stadium, Shaid Mahmood’s 61st minute strike helped Wapda secure all three points against PMC.
Elsewhere, the match between Muslim FC and Afghan FC ended in a 1-1 draw at Quetta’s Sadiq Shaheed Football Stadium.
Jadeed Khan Pathan’s 17th minute opener for Afghan FC was cancelled out by Muslim FC’s Mohammad Hanif on the stroke of half-time.