HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The third edition of the highest cash prize knock-out football tournament, British Gurkha Cup will kick off here at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday with two-time defending champions Mega Three Star Club starting their defense with a match against Sankata Club.
Three Star have been rejuvenated by the signing of their often-reliable striker Santosh Sahukhala from Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club and veteran defender Raghu Prajapati from New Road Team. Three Star, who had registered 16 players at the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on Thursday, have renewed contract with 12 players.
The Lalitpur-based outfit are fresh from winning the 14th Budha Subba Gold Cup in Dharan last month, while Sankata will do all they can after returning to the top-tier football. Sankata is a team that finished third in the recently concluded ‘B’ Division National League.
Three Star are aiming to make a winning start in their title defense. “We would go for a win straight away for a positive start in our campaign,” said Three Star coach Megh Raj KC.
KC accepted that it would be tough to play against Sankata specially after almost two years. “It is our first match with Sankata after a long gap, we are unaware of their strength and weaknesses,” added KC.
KC further added the morale of his team is high with their recent success and the formation of the squad. “The boys are pumped-up after winning the Budha Subba Gold Cup. Sahukhala’s presence in the squad is a huge morale booster for us,” clarified KC.
Sankata are hit by a one-month suspension of their coach Shyam Mali and their caretaker coach Juju Kaji Dangol said they have set a modest target in the tournament. “We are taking this tournament as a preparation for the upcoming ‘A’ Division League,” said Dangol. Dangol was given the duty to look after the team after the All Nepal Football Association on Thursday slapped ban on Mali for breaching the spirit of the game.
“We have signed all junior players except for Salyan Khadgi. The tournament would be a great platform for them to get exposure,” added Dangol, a former skipper of the club. However, Dangol said the best they could target is to make it to the semi-final. “Although we are lacking strikers our strong defense line-up has given me some hopes of reaching the semi-final. We would do our best to beat Three Star,” said Dangol.
The winners of the tournament will receive one million rupees, while the runners-up take home Rs 500,000. The losing semi-finalists will get Rs 100,000 each. The Most Valuable Player of the tournament will be awarded with a motorcycle. A cash prize of Rs 50,000 has also been set aside for the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward and coach.