Kathmandu, June 22:
Jumanu Rai scored a hat-trick and Ananta Thapa netted one goal as Nepal Police Club (NPC) defeated Abahami Limited of Bangladesh 4-0 in the Group A qualifying tournament for the AFC Presidentâ€™s Cup football tournament in Malaysia today.
The NPC midfielder Ananta Thapa opened the scoring in the 15th minute following a cross from Bhola Silwal, while Jumanu Rai doubled the tally three minutes later in counter-attack. The Nepali â€˜Aâ€™ Division Club missed two more chances and goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa saved a left-footed shot from Mehadi Hasan in the first half as they went to break with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Jumanu scored his second and the teamâ€™s third goal in the 54th minute on a perfect cross from Bhola Silwal. Some three hundred Nepalis including Nepali Ambassador Rishi Adhikari were present at the stadium to cheer the Nepali team.
The NPC striker completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute when he converted a penalty, which the team earned after a Abahami defender handled the ball inside the box. In the 53rd minute, NPC goalie Ritesh Thapa made a brilliant diving effort to deny Jahirâ€™s powerful shot.
The Nepali team, which reached the final in Malaysia last year and got the opportunity to participate in the tournament after the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) failed to hold the national league in 2007, will face Pakistanâ€™s WAPDA on Tuesday before taking on Regar TadAZ of Tajikistan two days later. The top four teams â€” winners of three groups and the best runner-up team â€” will qualify for the AFC Presidentâ€™s Cup semi-finals, scheduled for September 19-21.
NPC SQUAD: Ramesh Budathoki (C), Ritesh Thapa (GK), Rakesh Shrestha, Parbat Pandey, Jumanu Rai, Prabin Shrestha, Chetan Ghimire, Ananta Thapa, Deepak Paudel, Bhola Silwal, Suman Subedi.