Biratnagar players show discontent, walk off the pitch, return and get hammered
KATHMANDU, MAY 8
Lalitpur City Football Club and Butwal-Lumbini FC earned the remaining two playoffs berths in the Khukri Nepal Super League here at the Dasharath Stadium today.
In a tensed match in which Biratnagar players showed their dissatisfaction, walked off the pitch in protest to the referee's decisions, returned seven minutes later and faced a 4-0 humiliating defeat at the hands of Lalitpur, who made it to the playoffs with their second win.
Biratnagar players, except for Pedro Manzi, disrupted the match for turning down their two penalty appeals but they walked off the pitch only after conceding the second goal in the 62nd minute. They returned to the pitch after a drama of seven minutes on the sidelines and conceded two more goals that eliminated them from the playoffs race.
Anjan Bista put Lalitpur ahead in the 36th minute when he volleyed home in rebound after Biratnagar goalkeeper Kishore Giri blocked Bimal Rana's header on a corner from Mikchen Tamang. Rana doubled the tally in the 62nd minute after Bista dodged custodian Giri and set the ball for him to complete the move.
Lalitpur marquee player and skipper Bista headed home his second goal of the match in the 81st minute following a long free kick from Kamal Shrestha to make it 3-0. Biratnagar were reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute after Bikram Dhimal, who replaced skipper Ranjit Dhimal in the 70th minute, collected second yellow card for a foul against Bimal Rana.
Nurlan Novruzov Zahid completed the rout in the third minute of the injury time after he took the ball alone from almost centre of the pitch and rounded off goalkeeper Giri to score into the open nets.
Lalitpur, who axed head coach Pradeep Humagain after collecting three points in the first four matches, accumulated nine points to make it to the playoffs. Biratnagar ended the campaign with seven points. Lalitpur skipper Anjan Bista was named the man of the match, while his teammate Dona Thapa was declared the emerging player.
In another match, Butwal-Lumbini defeated leaders Dhangadhi FC 1-0 to claim the final remaining berth. After a goalless first half, Omolaja Nurain Kareem scored the solitary goal of the match in the 80th minute as Butwal-Lumbini sneaked past Pokhara Thunders into the fourth place on head-to-head basis after being tied on eight points.
Pokhara finished fifth and were eliminated along with Biratnagar and Chitwan FC. Kathmandu RayZrs are at the second place with 10 points and will face already-eliminated Chitwan in the last league match on Sunday.
In playoffs, Lalitpur will play against Butwal-Lumbini in the eliminator match, while Dhangadhi will face Kathmandu in first qualifier regardless of the result of Sunday's match as they are assured of the top two positions.
The winners of the first qualifier will advance to the final, whereas the losing side will take on the winning team of the eliminator to decide the second finalists. The final is slated for May 15.
BCFC apologise, but slam referees
Biratnagar City Football Club apologised for the halt of play during their Khukri Nepal Super League match against Lalitpur City FC here at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday.
Issuing a release hours after the shameful incident in which the players walked off the pitch protesting referee's decision of not rewarding them two penalties, Biratnagar City FC board said the players were not responsible for the move. It was entirely the decision of the club management, and not the players," said the club. "The club management realises the hurt on the ardent supporters of the club, its well wishers and the wider football community." But the club raised questions on the quality of technical manpower used in the NSL. "...we cannot shy away from the fact that the quality of decisions throughout the tournament has been substandard and below par, a voice echoed by coaches of several other participating teams and that does not help groom or uplift the level of NSL. We urge the organisers and the match officials to undergo self reflection in this regard.
The system needs to be paid serious attention to, solely with the objective of elevating the standard."
A version of this article appears in the print on May 9, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.