Jhapa send NPC crashing from first round

Pokhara, January 22

Rumpum Jhapa-XI defeated Nepal Police Club 2-0 and entered the quarter-finals of the 14th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament here at the Pokhara Stadium today.

In the first-round match, Karna Limbu and Buddha Raj Limbu scored one goal each as Jhapa-XI stunned NPC, who had entered the semi-finals in the previous edition of the tournament.

Jhapa took an early lead from the spot in the third minute. NPC goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha brought down Buddha Raj Limbu inside the danger box when the unmarked forward collected a pass from Narendra Limbu and tried to beat the shot stopper. Limbu converted the resulting penalty to put Jhapa ahead. Limbu doubled the tally in the 35th minute when his left-footed shot from the D-box kissed the nets following a pass from Dilen Moktan.

NPC forward failed to penetrate through the tight defence of Jhapa, who dominated the second half as well. The Policemen created an opportunity in the 32nd minute but Bharat Shah’s attempt from close range took a deflection and went for corner. Four minutes later, Kapil Dhakal headed wide on a free kick from Nir Kumar Rai. At the other end, Karna Limbu’s strike sailed above the bar after Dinesh Gurung failed to clear the ball.

Jhapa coach Bhagirath Ale ‘Mama’ said the team’s strategy of man-marking against the NPC worked. “We had assigned five defenders to check their forwards and their poor finishing also contributed a lot for us,” Ale said. “The penalty in the early stage of the match boosted the morale of our players,” he added.

NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha said the penalty was the turning point of the match. “The players were down after the penalty and that put us under pressure. And we also failed to convert the chances,” he said. “The chance ended when we conceded the second goal while trying to level the scores,” added Shrestha.

Hosts Sahara Club will take on Sikkim United Club of India in the first quarter-final match of the tournament.