Friends enter final amid tension

Dharan, March 13:

NIBL Friends Club of Kathmandu defeated BN Railway of Kolkata 2-0 and entered the final of the 10th Budha Subba Tuborg Gold Cup Football Tournament here at the Dharan Stadium today.

Bharat Khawas scored one and set another for Buddha Chemjong for the ‘A’ Division outfit, which will face star-studded New Road Team in Saturday’s final. This is the second time Friends made it to the final here. They had advanced to the final in the sixth edition of the tournament and were beaten by Mahendra Police Club.

After the goalless first half, Friends took lead in the 64th minute when Khawas scored an easy goal on a corner kick from substitute Azad Pradhan. Friends doubled their tally in the 73rd minute through Adidas man of the match Chemjong, who controlled Khawas’ pass before firing home.

The win, however, was overshadowed by some controversies and tensions. The match became tensed after referee Binod KC expelled Shyam Mandal of the Indian team for using abusive language. The situation became worse after Mandal attacked the referee. Furious over the attack, one of the spectators pelted stones at the Indian team’s player box. Police took control over the situation and arrested the spectator and the match resumed after five minutes of disruption.

Despite dominating the field for the first 15 minutes and creating three scoring opportunities, the visitors failed to score. Friends’ goalkeeper Rupak Shrestha was the main hurdle for the Indians as he made a spectacular save to deny L Jwala’s powerful shot from close range. Apart from Jwala, Sujit Malo and Lakhan Singh also muffed up the chances within the first 15 minutes.

Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra praised his team for giving their best. “The boys played to their level best and as we had planned,” he added.

BN Railway coach Tapan Jyoti Mitra blamed the over confidence and indiscipline of the players for his team’s loss. “The opponents were not strong, but we did mistake and invited the loss for us,” he added.