POKHARA: Three Star Club claimed the 11th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament title edging hosts Sahara Club 1-0 here at the Pokhara Stadium today.
Adewumi Femi scored the match winning goal seven minutes before the whistle to hand the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League leaders their third Aaha-Rara title. Three Star’s victory also deprived the hosts of winning their first ever title in front of a sell out crowd.
Femi converted his header from the box on a rebound from Buddha Lama who had tried to clear a header from substitute Anil Gurung in Jeevan Sinkeman’s corner. Three Star had previously won the titles in 2007 and 2011. It was Three Star’s first title under new coach Pradip Humagain, who took over the reigns of the club after Megh Raj KC stepped down during the Ncell Cup in Kathmandu in September. Three Star pocketed Rs 351,000, while runners-up Sahara got Rs 201,000.
The Lalitpur-based top tier outfit also swept away the individual awards. Skipper Bishnu Sunuwar was adjudged the best defender, while Victor was named the best midfielder and Pradip Humagain the best coach. All three received Rs 10,000 each. Femi, who scored three goals in their campaign, received the highest scorer’s award of Rs 15,000.
Ajit Prajapati from Sahara was named the best player winning him a motorcycle and the best goalkeeper award that earned him Rs 10,000. Likewise, Yona Elias Ndabila of Sahara was adjudged the best forward and Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club (JYC) took the Fair Play Team honour. Yona pocketed Rs 10,00 and JYC earned Rs 5,000.
Sahara, playing their first final in 11 years, did their best to hold Three Star in the match but could not capitalise on the scoring chances they created. Luck deserted the hosts when Yona Elias, the leading scorer of the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League with 16 goals for Saraswoti Youth Club, and Stephen Veron hit the woodwork.
The local side was indebted to goalkeeper Ajit Prajapati, who made a couple of spectacular saves. Ajit first blocked Bishnu Gurung’s powerful strike in the second minute before denying Femi on a one-on-one encounter in the 13th minute. Jeevan’s strike went inches wide off the target in the 33rd minute. Three Star were reduced to 10 men for a brief period of the last three minutes of injury time but that mattered a little to the champions. Femi was sent off for his double bookbale offence.
It was the only second encounter between these two sides in Pokhara. In their first meeting during the semi-final of the fifth edition in 2007, eventual champions Three Star had hammered the local side 3-0. Three Star coach Praip Humagain said his team played their natural game. “Everything went as per our plan. We could have won the match with ease but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said the coach.
APF enter semi-finals
Udayapur, February 2
Nepal APF Club needed a 3-0 tie breaker victory over Rastriya Jana Jagriti Club of Sunsari to reach the semi-finals of the second Udayapur Gold Cup Football Tournament here today.
The match was decided through tie breaker after the regular 90 minutes ended on a 1-1 draw and no team failed to break the deadlock in the 20 minutes of extra time. Arjun Subba, Nabin Lama and Bhim Shrestha converted from the spot for the youngest departmental side. APF custodian Samit Raj Bhandari had denied shots from Binod Lama, Diwas Rai and Subarna Limbu in the tie breaker.
In the normal time, Rastriya Janajagriti took a surprise lead in the 73rd minute through a penalty from Binod Lama. The Sunsari-based team had won the penalty after Samit tripped Subarna Limbu inside the danger zone. APF, however, levelled nine minutes later with Milan Rai scoring the equaliser.
Both teams created quite a few scoring chances after the second goal but none of them managed to deliver a killer blow. Rastriya Janajagriti were a better side throughout the match but luck ran out of them. Arjun Subba of APF was adjudged the man-of-the-match. On Monday, hosts Udayapur-XI will take on ‘A’ division outfit Saraswati Youth Club.