APF upset defending champions Three Star

Kathmandu, August 26:

Raghu Prajapati scored the equaliser and set up another as Gyanendra Armed Police Force (APF) Officers’ Club netted two goals in nine minutes to upset defending champions Nabil Three Star Club in the inaugural match of the Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League Football Tournament today. Prajapati found the net in the 79th minute to level the scores after Santosh Sahukhala put the Patan Club ahead in the 31st minute. Mansajan Rajbhandari snatched the winner with just two minutes remaining to earn the important three points. The result also ended Three Star Club’s 22-match unbeaten streak in league — 17 wins and five draws. They were beaten 1-0 by Manang Marsyangdi Club two years ago.

The Nabil Three Star Club took lead through Sahukhala, who had a spectacular goal following Bishan Gauchan’s pass from the right flank. The APF team — under the leadership of Jibesh Pandey who joined the departmental team from Sankata Club — seemed technically raw in front of the experience of Three Star, but pulled out the most biggest upset in their debut league match.

Prajapati, who joined the APF from the last year’s relegated Kathmandu Club, levelled the scores in the 79th minute. Assisted by Ganesh Lawati inside the penalty area, Prajapati dodged a defender before firing the ball into the corner beating a diving Upendra Man Singh.

The match was heading towards a draw, but Prajapati again found a loose ball and supplied to unmarked Mansajan, who beat the off-side trap, dodged TSC goalkeeper Upendra Man Singh and fired the ball into an open net, bringing the crowd supporters to their feet.

“We were really scared as we were playing our first game and the opponents were also strong, but I am happy that my boys fought hard to bring such a surprising result,” said APF coach Nawal Rana. TSC’s new coach Mrigendra Mishra said that the team was under mental pressure. “They had nothing to loose against us, so the pressure was on us,” he said. He also blamed the players, especially Santosh Shrestha, for not playing to the team’s expectations.

Coincidentally, both the coaches have a similar history. Mishra was Kathmandu Club’s coach when the club was relegated last year, while Rana was in-charge of Naxal Youth Club, who were dropped to ‘B’ division two years ago.

Three Star almost took a lead in the ninth minute, but Janak Singh’s volley on Rajesh Shahi corner was saved by APF goalkeeper Rajbhandari. The defending champions dominated the field throughout the first half, but the only success came through Sahukhala. Surendra Tamang should have scored a goal in the 16th minute, but failed to control the ball on Anjan KC’s cross when the APF custodian Rajbhandari was the only one to beat. Rajesh Shahi also muffed up a chance for Three Star when he failed to possess the ball in one to one situation with Dhan Bir Chaudhary in the 71st minute. Earlier, Rajendra Khetan, managing director of Gorkha Brewery, inaugurated the tournament, which has been organised by All Nepal Football Association. In all, 15 teams are taking part in the event which carries a total cash prize of Rs 2.9 million. ANFA president Ganesh Thapa, CEO of Nabil Bank Limited Anil Shah, ANFA Treasurer Birat Jung Shahi were also present on the occasion.

Where is tie-sheet?

KATHMANDU: The Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League Football Tournament got underway at Dasharath Stadium on Friday, but the organisers, ANFA, has not released the tie-sheet yet. They had earlier said that the schedules will be distributed before the league starts, but failed to do so. The sports journalists, present at the stadium, asked for the tie-sheet with officials, but they failed to produce proper reasons for not making the tie-sheet available. However, the ANFA distributed the press pass before the match. — HNS