Army, Machhindra win to maintain order

Kathmandu, February 6

Tribhuvan Army Club and San Miguel Machhindra Football Club registered victories to maintain the pace at the top of the table in the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.

Santosh Tamang scored a brace as TAC defeated fellow departmental side Nepal APF Club 2-1 after Machhindra had moved to the top with a 6-1 thumping win against Saraswoti Youth Club. With their eighth victory, TAC accumulated 26 points from 11 matches, while Machhindra — who had earlier briefly climbed to the summit — are at the second position with 25 points.

With just two rounds remaining, Nepal APF Club are at the 13th position with five points, while Saraswoti are at the bottom with four. Unlike previous edition, the bottom-placed side will be relegated to B division. Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club (seven) and Brigade Boys Club (eight) are also in danger zone.

In the departmental derby, Santosh Tamang opened the scoring in the 16th minute.

APF defender Ramesh Dangal brought down TAC skipper Bharat Khawas inside the penalty box and Tamang scored in rebound after goalkeeper Raju Yogi blocked his shot from the spot. APF levelled the scores in the 37th minute when Ashish Lama slotted past TAC goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu after Ramesh Dangal set the ball for him with a header.

TAC restored the lead when Santosh Tamang found the top corner of the goal with a scorcher in the 41st minute and the striker also earned the Kelme man-of-the-match award for his heroics.

Earlier, TAC custodian Bikesh Kuthu made a brilliant save to stop Ashish Lama’s free kick in the 27th minute, while George Prince Karki struck against the post with a header following a cross from his skipper Bharat Khawas six minutes later. A minute later, Tanka Basnet’s long-range attempt was saved by APF goalie Raju Yogi, who also denied twin strikes from Tek Bahadur Budhathoki and Sudil Rai in the second half.

Earlier, man-of-the-match Dipak Rai scored a brace and Bishal Rai ‘A’, Devendra Tamang, Andres Nia Techounkue and Somide Oluwawunmi netted one each for Machhindra. Kazeem Adegoke Susari scored the consolation goal from the spot for Saraswoti.

Devendra Tamang opened the scoring in the 40th minute with a fine header following a corner from Ranjit Dhimal before going into the break. Dipak Rai doubled the tally in the 54th minute when he collected a pass from Dhimal and dodged Saraswoti goalkeeper Pradeep Bhandari before scoring in an empty nets. Dhimal was at the centre of the match as he provided Bishal Rai with a cross for the third goal in the 59th minute.

Fed by Yogesg Rai, Dipak Rai netted his second goal of the match to make it 4-0 in the 77th minute. Saraswoti pulled one back in the 86th minute from the spot after Machhindra defender Peter Segun handled the ball inside the danger zone. Somide Oluwawunmi made it 5-1 in the fourth minute of the injury time before Andres Nia Techounkue completed the rout with his team’s sixth goal a minute later.

Saraswoti played without regular skipper Dipesh Shrestha after the ANFA suspended him for the remaining three matches of the league. Shrestha is believed to have played a role in suspected match-fixing against Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club. Saraswoti, who are at the bottom of the table with four points, had registered an unlikely 4-3 victory over Sherpa last week. According to reports, the ANFA has opened up investigation into the matter and questioned around five players and officials from the two teams.