African United march into semis

Pokhara, February 28:

African United defeated Rupandehi XI 2-0 to enter the semi-finals of the fourth Aaha Gold Cup Football Tournament here at the Pokhara Stadium today.

African United — the team with the Africa-based players who played for various ‘A’ Division clubs in the Martyrs’ Memorial League — dominated the field throughout the match and got goals from Jawalakhel Youth Club’s Abdul Gani and Mahabir’s J K Akushie.

Skills and physical strength came into play as the African United won the match easily despite lacking proper coordination between the players.

Akushie struck the cross bar with a powerful shot in the 18th minute. A minute later, Rupandehi XI goalkeeper Sawan Gurung had to leave the field after he got injured in collision with Akushie. Bikram Sen came in place of Gurung.

Abdul Ghani gave United the lead in the 37th minute on rebound after Rupandehi custodian Sen failed to gather Akushie’s powerful strike.

Rupandeni turned offensive in the second half and almost found the equaliser in the 52nd minute, but African United’s goalie Uche Niebule — a defender at Mahabir Club — made a brilliant save on Amar Pun’s strike.

Sen saved Akushie’s 20-yard shot in the 56th minute, but failed to repeat five minutes later. Akushie doubled the tally in the 61st minute when he beat Rupandehi’s off-side trap.

African United players were not in their normal position as they used to for their clubs. Brigade Boys Club striker Obagbemiro Junior played in the midfield while Ghani and Aklushie came in as strikers.

With the win, African United set dates with national league champions Manang Marsyangdi Club, who are without the services of six star players. Joint highest scorer of the league, Junior was named the man of the match.

African United skipper Junior said that they lacked coordination in the first game but would come strongly in the next match. “We have to perform well against MMC in the semi-finals,” he said.

In Wednesday’s semi-final, Mahendra Police Club will take on Knight Chess Club.