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Record-Breaking KRL Lift PPFL Trophy

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KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), who had already emerged as champions, were handed over the winning trophy as the 8th Pakistan Premier Football League concluded at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad on Thursday, writes Alam Zeb Safi.

KRL ended their campaign with 77 points from 30 matches after they held former champions WAPDA to a goalless draw in their last outing. This is the best ever performance from any top team in the history of the league. With the class act, during which KRL lost only one match, they also qualified for the AFC President’s Cup which will be held next year at a venue yet to be decided.

KRL’s coach Tariq Lutfi was elated over the splendid performance of his team. “I am really happy that our team has won the league so convincingly,” Lutfi told The News after the closing ceremony. “I adopted a rotation policy and by doing so all the players were kept active throughout. Even key players like Samar Ishaq and Mohammad Qasim were rested for some matches. And it worked a lot as when a bunch of our key players joined the national team for the SAFF Cup, the remaining lot realised their responsibility and performed splendidly to end the season in a style,” said Lutfi, a former Pakistan coach. “Now we will plan for the AFC President’s Cup. We need training tour for such an international event and our administration also realises it. I hope they will provide us with all sort of support to build a strong team for the job.”

Chaman’s Afghan FC bewildered everyone as they finished second with 57 points. Afghan FC official Mohammad Ali said that his team got second position because of the hard work done by each and every player during the season. “It is because of the hard work of the players that we have been able to end second,” Ali told this correspondent from Chaman.

“We have no resources like the departmental teams but still we have tried to keep the players happy by providing them every kind of facilities,” he said. Former champions Army had to be content with third position as they wrapped up the season also with 57 points, but missed the second spot because of low goal-average.

Four-time champions WAPDA finished fourth with 52 points. Their top coach Khalid Butt’s ouster from the coaching top slot before the start of the season was the main reason behind the lowly performance. In spite of having a bunch of top players, WAPDA failed to retain the title.

Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), which had ended fourth in the 2010 season, concluded their mission at the fifth spot. The debutants Chaman’s Muslim FC, who pulled off several upsets, ended sixth, an appreciable ranking achieved by a unit that had mostly youngsters.

Then came PIA (49 points), National Bank (45 points), Habib Bank (30 points), Navy (35 points), Pakistan Air Force (33 points), Karachi Port Trust (32 points), Nushki’s Baloch FC (28 points) and PMC Athletico (27 points).
Police and Pak Elektron Limited (PEL) were relegated to the PFF Second Division League as they ended at the lowest ebb with 24 and eight points, respectively. They will be replaced by Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) and Lahore’s Wohaib FC in the next year’s league after they won their respective departmental and club phases of the Second Division.

Argentina’s ambassador Rodolfo J Martin Saravia was the chief guest during the closing ceremony. Also present were senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhail and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi.

The winners KRL were handed over the winning trophy, gold medals and Rs700,000. Afghan FC, the runners-up, went away with silver medals and Rs500,000. Army got richer by Rs 400,000. They got bronze medals.

Fair-Play trophy and Rs100,000 were received by PIA. Cheques of Rs100,000 each were handed over to the leading scorer Jadeed Khan Pathan (Afghan FC, 22 goals) and the best goalkeeper Jaffar Khan (Army).

The best player award of Rs150,000 went to KRL’s skipper Samar Ishaq. Moreover, Rs100,000 each went to the best referee Waheed Murad and the best match commissioner Zaman Khan from Rawalpindi. The best assistant referee Adnan Anjum received Rs50,000.