Kathmandu, Dharan all set for final

Himalayan News Service

Mahendranagar, April 8:

Kathmandu go into the central-level Birendra Memorial Inter-municipality Football Tournament final as favourites when they face Dharan in the final here on Saturday.

The tournament will however get a new winner, whoever wins, after defending champions were knocked out of the second edition of the tournament in earlier rounds. The winners will be richer by Rs 4,00,000, while the runners-up will get Rs 2,00,000.

Kathmandu are packed with national players, while Dharan team mostly is made of youngsters. Yet, they might be dangerous for Kathmandu after their upset victory over Lalitpur in the semi-final.

Dharan thrashed Baglung 12-0 in the first match, and they routed Bhaktapur 4-0 in the quarters. Kathmandu will be happy as their captain-cum-coach Kumar Thapa, who was suspended during their 1-0 quarter-final victory over Ithari, will be back for the final. But they will be lacking striker Jibesh Pandey and defender Anil Adhikari, both injured.

“We are here to win, and our main aim is to lift the trophy,” said Thapa. Warning his players not to be over confident, Kumar said that his team was not going to under-estimate Dharan.

“They have come into the final, and a weak team does not make it to the championship match,” he said. Kathmandu, who were short of substitutes in the semi-finals due to injuries and suspension, will be relaxed for the final after MMC’s Sachin Shrestha joined the squad on Friday.

Kathmandu, who were ousted in the first-round of the first edition of the tournament held in Kathmandu, beat Dhanghadi 5-1 in the first match, edged out Itahari 1-0 in the quarters and made it to the final with a 1-0 hard-fought win over Madhyapur Thimi.

There will be no stopping for Kathmandu if their four key players — goalkeeper Bikash Malla, defender Rakesh Shrestha, midfielder Kumar Thapa and striker Ramesh Budhathoki — perform well.

For Dharan, everything will depend on striker Milan Shrestha, defender Sagar Ghimire, goalkeeper Dilip Chhetry and striker Rishi Rai, who is second in the goal scorer’s list with 10 goals.

Dharan will also have the home and Dharan skipper Milan Shrestha took it as a positive aspect. “We are playing on our home ground and we will have good crowd support,” said Shrestha.

Dharan coach Kiran Sharma said that his boys could win the title if they repeated their semi-final performance. “We are in the final with comfortable wins in all the three previous matches, and no one can stop us if the boys perform as they did in the semi-final match against Lalitpur,” said Sharma.