KATHMANDU: A late goal from Amar Pun guided Manang Marshyangdi Club into the semi-finals of the British Gurkha Cup Football Tournament with a 1-0 win over New Road Team (NRT) here at the Dasharath Stadium today.
Newly structured MMC had a tough time denying almost half-a-dozen NRT attacks on the frame but one blunder from goalkeeper Surendra Shrestha in the 89th minute gave them a place in last four. Surendra fumbled the ball while trying to get hold of a long cross and Amar headed home with a low header.
NRT coach Diken Suwal accepted the defeat came from a single clanger from his custodian, adding that the introduction of a new striker Danish Shayam Mosavi didn’t work. “No doubt it was the goalkeeper’s mistake as he failed to grip the ball. We had quite a few problems with forwards during the league stages so we tried Mosavi but the experiment didn’t work,” said disappointed Suwal.
NRT were hit by the injuries to three key players — Biraj Maharjan, Sagar Thapa and Khum Gurung — but still dominated the young brigade of MMC. NRT striker Mosavi squandered three clear chances which could have turned the match the other
way round. Mosavi intercepted from the midfield in the 20th minute and charged
from inside the area but MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha punched the ball away.
He missed out on another close range chance in a one versus two situation in the 38th minute and it was man-of-the-match Bishal who denied Mosavi yet again. The new NRT forward Mosavi was also unlucky when his tight angle shot rebounded off the bar after Bishal and defender Pasang Lama erred and gave away the ball in the 72nd minute.
Subhash Rai was also close to scoring for NRT in the 58th minute but his powerful shot that deflected off MMC skipper Tashi Chhiring was brilliantly punched by Bishal. Earlier in the 16th minute Laxman Ruchal’s header skied above the bar.
MMC played a lacklustre first half but they shifted the gears after the break. “They (NRT) dominated us in the first half and we went to the second with a new strategy which balanced the match,” said MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung.
Prabin Sainju struck a brilliant 40-yard shot in the 51st minute that beat the keeper but hit the woodwork. Ritesh Malla could have given MMC the lead earlier had his powerful shot not sailed inches away from the post. Unmarked Ganesh Khadka met a rebound at the edge of the area but charged uncontrollably.
MMC coach Gurung said though his team advanced to the semi-finals, his only job in the team at present would be to boost the morale of his boys. “This tournament has been a test for my team. We are without star players and when we started the campaign we were not even eying the trophy in the real sense.”