Lahore: Pakistan International Airlines, National Bank of Pakistan, WAPDA and ARMY have moved in the semifinals of the ongoing 61st PSO National Hockey Championship at the Sialkot Hockey Stadium here on Thursday.
A tough competition is expected in the first semifinal between the two top teams PIA Vs NBP comprising of Olympians on both sides. Another tough battle is expected between WAPDA and Army who will try their luck to confirm their berth in the final. After a rest day on Friday (today) both semifinals will be played on Saturday 9th January.
Earlier, in the third quarterfinal, PIA beat Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 3-1 in a nerve breaking penalty shoots out session after drawing 1-1 in the stipulated time. Though SSGL took lead in the 15thminute through Abbas Haider who successfully converted a penalty corner yet they went on the defensive which proved a wrong strategy in the end. PIA forwards took full advantage of the game plan of their opponents, created gaps and launched frequent attacks. SSGC, however, successfully maintained their lead amid excellent goalkeeping by former Olympian Salman Akbar who demonstrated his skill and experience to guard the fort. The Airliners got five penalty corners but failed to convert any. Salman stopped as many as four hits in the goal post. In the 56th minute PIA forwards launched a ferocious attack through Shafqat Rasool, and Muhammad Zubair and earned a penalty corner for their team and the later Zubair made no mistake to level the score. In the penalty shoots out session, PIA scored two while the SSGC failed to convert four shoots out they availed. Haider Rasool and Kamran Hussain supervised the match.
ARMY had to make strenuous work to beat Punjab in the last quarterfinal. They exerted pressure on their opponents converting a penalty corner in the 12thminute through their captain Mohammed Imran. But they went through a troublesome phase to defend their fort which was frequently attacked by the Punjab forwards. Punjab wasted a fair chance in the third quart. However, in the last quart, Punjab’s Faizan leveled the score through successful conversion of a penalty stroke in the 51st minute. Six minutes later Army scored their second goal through Kashif Ali o reach the semifinal. Munir Ahmed and Haroon Saeed supervised the match.
Fazal Jillani, President Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Sialkot was the Guest of Honour 4thQuarter Final between ARMY/PUNJAB, which was played at 1400 hours. On the occasion, Rana Mujahid Ali, Secretary General PHF, Mr. Muhammad Asif Bajwa, Ex-Secretary General PHF, Mr. Shahnaz Sheikh, Manager/Head Coach Pakistan Senior Hockey Team, Organizing Secretary Mr. Ajmal Khan Lodhi, Tournament Director Olympian Anjum Saeed, Assistant Tournament Director Olympian Danish Kaleem, Olympian Shafqat Malik and officials of DHA Sialkot were also present.