One goal each by international Nohaiz Malik and star Pakistan’s national team full-back Abu Bakar steered Peshawar Falcons defeated Bannu Panthers by 2-1 in a thrill-packed final of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa National Hockey League-2021 played here at Lala Ayub Hockey Stadium on Friday.
Adviser to the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Information and Higher Education Kamran Khan Bangash was the chief guest on this occasion and witnessed the match. Tribal Lions who walked out of the field faced disqualification from the organizing committee when they demanded a review of a controversial decision of the supervising umpire Yasir Khurshid, Kohat Eagles was declared as third position winner.
Pakistan team star full-back Abu Bakar who scored 14 individual goals on the penalty corner and was part of the Peshawar Falcons team was declared as the best player of the League and another Peshawar full-back Zahid Ullah got best player of the final award.
The final match started on a fast tempo after the two teams took part in the National Anthem along with the spectators. Moin Shakeel of Bannu scored a field goal in the 45th minute of the third quarter before no teams could score any goal at the end of the first two quarters of the 15-minute each.
Bannu took three penalty corners in the first two quarters but this time the scorer Sufyan failed to convert any of them while Peshawar Falcons also got two penalty corners in the first 35 minute play but Abu Bakar failed to score any goal.
It was in the 45th minute, third quarter when Moin Shakeel through a reverse flick scored a very angular goal to give Bannu Panthers a goal lead. After taking the lead Bannu Panthers put in more pressure to consolidate the lead but they failed due to pack defence of Peshawar’s Falcons including full-backs Abu Bakar, Zahid Ullah, defenders Mujeeb, Yasir and Umar.
A minute later Peshawar Falcons leveled the tally 1-1 when unmarked Nohaiz Malik after receiving a right winger Zareen’s cross and did nothing wrong in dispatching it into the goal-post to make it 1-1. After 1-1, Peshawar Falcons kept up pressure to double the lead. The final was also marred with some controversial decisions of the two supervising umpires Atif Malik and Yasir Khursheed. Atif Malik on one occasion whistle and signaled penalty corner against Bannu Panthers and at the same time allowed Peshawar Falcons forward to carry on.
It surprised many that the umpire , after giving advantage signal, decided to give penalty corner again on which Bannu Panthers players protested but on the intervention of the Bannu Panthers coach international Ihsan Ullah Bannu started their play again.
In another surprise decision, Moin Shakeel was charged with a rough stick tackling but the umpire gave an otherwise decision instead of giving a penalty stroke. Anyway it was in the 56th minute when Peshawar Falcons took the lead through Abu Bakar on the third penalty corner and thus such lead of the Peshawar Panthers remained till the end of the 60th minute play. Like the league matches, the umpiring in the final was poor and there were already rumors that Peshawar would win. Thus Peshawar at the end won the final by 2-1.
Adviser to the Chief Minister Kamran Khan Bangash at the end awarded Rs. 1 million to the winner Peshawar Panthers team, trophy and gold medal, Rs. 500,000 was given Bannu Panthers along with silver medal and Rs. 300,000 was given to Kohat Eagles. Eight teams Bannu Panthers, Dera Ismail Khan Stallions, Mardan Bears, Kohat Eagles, Hazara Warriors, Peshawar Falcons, Tribal Lines and Malakand Tigers participated in the League.
Secretary Sports Abid Majeed, Director General Sports Asfandyar Khan Khattak, Director Female Games Miss Rasheed Ghaznavi, District Sports Officer Tehseen Ullah, Senior Vice President Pakistan Hockey Federation former IG Police Muhammad Saeed Khan, players and large number of spectators were also present. At the end of the presentation ceremony prominent singer Sana Tajik and Sajjad presented Game and Pashto songs that turned the whole complex into joyful moments.