LAHORE: Faisalabad, Lahore, Sargodha and Bahawalpur division hockey teams stormed into semifinals of First Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Division Hockey Championship 2021 at National Hockey Stadium on Thursday.
Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, Provincial Minister Ansar Majeed Khan Niazi, Director General Sports Board Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh and Punjab Hockey Association Secretary Lt-Col (retd) Asif Naz Khokhar also witnessed matches of the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Sports Minister said: “All the participating teams offered excellent performance throughout the tournament but four best teams have booked a place in the semifinals of the tournament”.
“All the participating teams played thrilling matches throughout the championship and several talented players have been found during the championship”, he added.
Punjab Sports Minister said “As many as 25 astro-turfs have been laid in major cities of the province for the growth of hockey. Sports Board Punjab has established several top class sports facilities across the province”.
Provincial Minister Ansar Majeed Khan Niazi, on this occasion lauded the efforts of Punjab Sports Minister and Director General Sports Punjab for organizing the competition in a befitting manner.
The semifinals and final of the event will be played on Feb 6 (Saturday) and 7 (Sunday) respectively at the same venue.
Four more matches were played on the 11th day of the championship but the most important encounter was played between Multan and Bahawalpur division hockey teams.
It may be noted here that three teams – Faisalabad, Lahore and Sargodha had already booked their place in the knockout stage at the end of 10th day’s matches and Bahawalpur team completed the semifinal lineup on the 11th day of the championship when they edged out injury-hit Multan team by a narrow margin of 2-1.
Ali Murtaza of Bahawalpur team scored his team’s first field goal in the 5th minute; however, Multan levelled the score in the 25th minute when Kashif Sadiq sent the ball into goalpost after a beautiful field move.
Both the teams afterwards tried their best to take a lead but Bahawalpur team managed to score the decisive goal when their captain Absar bin Rauf converted a penalty corner in the 38th minute and sealed a semifinal spot. Multan and Bahawalpur teams got five and three penalty corners respectively during the important match.
The second match of 11th day was played between Sargodha and Gujranwala hockey teams. Sargodha thrashed their rival team comfortably with the score of 4-1.
Sargodha hockey team was in marvellous form and started the match in aggressive style. Sargodha’s Mohammad Talha scored his team’s first two goals in 5th and 17th minute. Shaheer strengthened his team’s position with another field goal in 42nd minute.
Saqib Ali of Gujranwala converted a penalty corner in 56th minute to score his team’s only goal followed by another goal from Sargodha in the final stages of the match. Both the teams got four penalty corners each during the match.
Rawalpindi team trounced DG Khan by 3-0 in the third match of the day. They scored their three goals 30th, 40th and 55th minutes through Usman Janjua, skipper Mehran Ali and Sammar Abbas respectively.
Faisalabad routed Sahiwal by 6-1 in the last league round match of the championship. Mohammad Usman and Shehroz Khan netted two goals each for Faisalabad while Ibraheem and Sajid contributed one goal each for the victorious team. Sahiwal’s only goal was scored by Shakir Ali in the 56th minute of the match.