SIMARA: Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club will take on arch rivals Nepal Police Club (NPC) in the title rematch of the 14th National Ncell Women’s Football Championship here on Saturday.
APF — the four time champions who boast 15 members from the national squad — so far had an easy ride in the tournament. They came into the championship match with emphatic wins. Most importantly, they defeated the same team 1-0 in the previous edition final in Nawalparasi.
After opening an astounding 18-0 rout of Dhanusha, APF hammered Jhapa 12-0 in the pre-quarter finals and cruised past Kailali 4-0 in the semi-finals. Kailali were the only team in the tournament to give some challenge to APF holding the defending champions goalless for the first 45 minutes.
“Kailali didn’t let us settle down because they were playing a destructive game. We managed to score freely after scoring the first goal. But, I don’t think NPC will defend the way Kailali did,” said APF coach Milan Rai during a training session on the eve of the final. Though APF are considered the favourites, coach Rai believes that the final will be evenly contested.
“NPC were not up to their mark in their semi-final against Army (Tribhuvan Army Club). They have some good players in Niru Thapa and Chandra Bhandari to name a few who can perform well on a given day. It is going to be a 50-50 match,” said the 28-year old, who has been playing for the men’s team of the departmental side in the top flight football since 2003.
Rai further added NPC will be taking advantage of the Simara ground where APF have not played a single match. “They will definitely get the ground advantage. But we have devised certain plans to back that with a proper training to beat them. We will hold the ball possession and will not let them breathing space,” the coach added.
NPC have played all of their previous match here but they have not been as dominating as APF were in Chandranigahapur. They hammered Dhankuta 14-0 in the first match and overcame the local side Bara 5-0 but were tested in their 2-0 victory over TAC in the semi-finals on Thursday.
NPC coach Sandesh Shrestha admitted that playing against APF would be tough ask. “Obviously, there will be pressure on us as they have a majority of national players and will be coming with an extra rest day,” Shrestha said adding he has some players who can overcome the pressure.
“Niru and Chandra have been playing really well. Our defense line is doing well and midfielders have also been faring well. All we need to do is raise our game against the APF. We have to come up with a quality football,” added the coach.