Abu Bakr brace guides NBP to fifth National Hockey Championship title

KARACHI: A brace by Abu Bakr guided National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to their fifth title as they beat WAPDA in the final of the 64th National Hockey Championship at Sukkur’s Peoples Hockey Stadium.

NBP and WAPDA, who had four titles each in their cabinet before they went into the final, were quite well-matched on paper, with both boasting the services of Pakistan national hockey team players.

NBP had last lifted the coveted trophy in 2013 and WAPDA in 2010.

The final lived up to the expectations as a jam-packed stadium witnessed an exciting duel with fortunes fluctuating. NBP’s international drag-flicker Abu Bakr put his team ahead with a penalty corner in the 13th minute.

The lead didn’t last long as WAPDA’s Qasim equalised within six minutes through a penalty corner.

The score was 1-1 when the hooter for the half time rang. However, just two minutes into the second half, NBP restored the lead as Abu Bakr once again came to his team’s rescue. The fierce battle continued, but the bankers were able to keep the slim lead intact till the end of the game.

“It was all about who took their chances better. We missed fewer chances as compared to WAPDA and our team played as one unit, which made it easy for us to score goals,” Abu Bakr told The Express Tribune. “I am happy that I was able to score both goals, but if it was someone else I would be equally happy because, in the end, the team’s victory matters. It’s always a team effort.”

He added that the level of competition has increased and youngsters who are joining the game have a better skill set. “The talent hunt and open trials that were held by the federation across Pakistan has brought forward good players, but they still need field time to polish their skills,” he said.

Earlier, in the third position match, SSGC thrashed Navy 3-0. Rana Sohail displayed great attacking skills, scoring two goals. Zeeshan Bukhari was the other scorer. Interestingly, SSGC had finished third last year as well.

Khursheed Shah, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, distributed the prizes among the players. He lauded PHF for organising the national championship in Sukkur. He expressed hope that the PHF would organise more national-level competitions in Sindh so that the newly-laid turfs in various parts of the province could be utilised.

Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1598016/7-abu-bakr-brace-guides-nbp-fifth-national-hockey-championship-title/