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SSGC beats Army 1-0, PIA vs National Bank 3-3,in 63rd Zaitoon National Hockey Championships

Lahore : On the second day of Super League of 63rd Zaitoon National Hockey Championships at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore, SSGC defeated Army 1-0 (Scorer Abbas Haider). The match between PIA and National Bank ended in a 3-3 draw :
Scorers: National Bank: Abu Bakr 2 &  Azfar Yaqoob, PIA: Zubair 2 &  Haseem
SSGC outlasts Army 1-0
 
Sui Southern Gas Corporation boasting a few  senior and a greater number of junior internationals were the favourites but army,with Pakistan’s ace forward M.Rizwan Sr and the former national captain M.Imran,  fought well all the way.
Two teams made  repeated raids. If SSGC were the only side to earn penalty corners (four of them) in the first half, army had three good field attempts on the goal, one of them came off the pole.
It remained goalless after 30 minutes.
In the third quarter, SSGC had the better of the exchanges especially in the first seven minutes when they camped in army’s 23 metre area. Adeel Latif, who looked very dangerous and made repeated penetrations into the circle, missed a good chance. Persistence paid as the SSGC went ahead In the 34th minute, off their fifth PC. Abbas Haider scored with a low angular push.
The fit soldiers toiled hard for the equaliser in the last 15 minutes. They had at least a couple of good open play chances apart from two PCs. M.Imran, scorer of 99 international goals, couldn’t convert either.
Army even substituted  their goal keeper for an out field player in the 58th minute but the goal eluded them.
SCORER: SSGC: Abbas Haider 34 minute
National Bank of Pakistan and PIA in a 3-3 Thriller
An exciting contest was anticipated between the two top contenders – it lived up to the expectations.
PIA, with a number of past and present internationals, were up against NBP boasting eight members of Pakistan’s under 21 squad.
Thrice, NBP went ahead and each time the airline came back. PIA even came close to a memorable win in the last minute. First Shafqat’s  attempt was superbly saved by the NBP net minder, Mazhar Abbas and on the rebound, PIA and Pakistan captain, M.Irfan Sr shot it above the bar with the goal at his mercy.
The match began with the bankers having the better of the exchanges. The youngsters earned the first penalty corner in the 11th minute. Abu Bakr who made a hat trick in  an earlier game, found the net with a push left of the goal keeper Imran Butt.
In the last minute of the first quarter, experienced Shafqat Rasool sent a superb long ball into the circle. The fine opportunist Haseem got the ball into the NBP net with a first time hit.
In the next quarter also, the ball mostly remained in the PIA circle though they had the only PC of the period. The best opportunity fell to NBP’s Bilal Qadir who missed from a close range.
 NBP again went ahead in the 36th minute. A swift move was initiated from the own half by Ammad Butt. In the circle, Azfar Yaqoob’s parallel pass meant for a team mate was deflected in the goal by a PIA defender. Again,  bankers were dominating most of the time. And again, PIA equalised in the last minute of the quarter. Yasir Islam’s excellent pass from the NBP’s 23 metre line was well received by Zubair on the left side of the circle, who made it 2-2 with a fantastic reverse hander into the far post.
PIA employing all their experience made several forays into the bankers territory in the first seven minutes of the last quarter. First, Haseem wasted an easy opportunity and then a PC wasnt availed. In the 54th minute, they themselves conceded a PC for a rash foul. Abu Bakr again put the NBP ahead with a missile of a flicker in the 54th minute. The resilient PIA came back once again. A good sortie saw the ball in the NBP circle for sometime before Zubair,  with his second, of the evening equalised for the third time. The score stayed despite the last minute drama.
SCORERS:
National Bank: Abu Bakr  (11′ & 54′) and Azfar Yaqoob (26′), PIA: Zubair  (45′ & 57′) and Haseem (15′)
On Friday, 3 matches:
WAPDA vs Army 9.30 AM
Railways vs Police: 11:30 AM
SSGC vs SNGOL: 2:30 PM

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