KARACHI     -    National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Monday clinched the 65th Muhammad Noor Khan National Hockey Championship 2019 trophy after edging SSGC 6-5 on plenty shootouts in the final here at Abdul Sattar Edhi National Hockey Stadium.

Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah graced the occasion as chief guest while Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, Secretary Olympian Asif Bajwa, chief selector Olympian Manzoor Junior, former hockey greats and a sizable crowd was present on the occasion.

In the final, NBP came from behind to clinch the title after the final ended 1-1 in normal time. It was pure entertainment and crowd was provided top class hockey by both the teams. Mubahsir Ali, the plenty corner specialist, gave SSGC lead in the 21st minute. NBP gave their all and finally managed to equalise through international star Arsalan Qadir, who scored the goal in the 50th minute. Both the teams tried to score more goals, but some exceptional defending and excellent goalkeeping followed by some poor finishing barred them from scoring further goals.

The final went right down to the wire and umpires awarded five plenty shootouts to each team. NBP managed to score on all as Arsalan Qadir, Dilbar Hussian, Faizan Ali, Abubakar and Junaid Manzoor were on target, while SSGC could score on four through Ali Shan, Rana Sohail, Muneeb Ur Rehman and Ahmed Nadeem.

Earlier in the third place playoffs, Wapda Colour beat Wapda Whites 7-6. It was flood of goals from both sides. Representing same department, Haleem Usman was hero for Wapda-C, as he scored a hat-trick, while Aijaz Ahmed, M Umer Bhutta, M Usman and Sami Ullah scored a goal each. For Wapda-C, Adeel Khan and Sohail Anjum scored two goals each while Rana Waheed and Shajee Ahmad hit one goal apiece.

Speaking on the occasion, CM Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah said: “Sindh government will take every possible step to help the PHF revive the national game hockey. We have always stepped forward for this noble cause, as Pakistan had enjoyed tremendous success in hockey and won all the available titles in world hockey. I am grateful to the PHF President for inviting me for the final and I once again assured him my all-out support for Pakistan hockey.

“The way the federation has conducted the mega championship all the responsible deserve huge credit. Sindh will always remain available to the PHF, whenever they want to conduct any hockey event. I hope international matches, like past, will once again be held in Karachi and other parts of the country,” he concluded.

Sharing his views, PHF chief Brig Khokhar thanked Sindh government and especially CM Syed Murad Ali Shah for his passion and love for hockey. “We could never even think about conducting national championship and other events, like world XI and legends XI visit to Karachi without the support of Sindh government and its CM Syed Murad Ali Shah. I also want to thank media for their support and request PM Imran Khan to spare some time and invite PHF for meeting. I also expect the IPC Minister to soon have a detailed meeting with us.”

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