League evenly poised

Second leg matches begin today at two venues

Kathmandu, January 7:

The second leg of the Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League begins from Sunday and Mahendra Police Club (MPC) could have psychological advantge to claim the maiden title, as its leads the standings by frail two points.

Considering the strength and trends of Nepali football, the fight for the championship has always been between a few teams. This time around, four teams - MPC, Manang Marsyangdi Club (MMC) and Nabil Three Star Club (TSC) and Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC - have posed their strong claim for the championship.

There are other teams which has sucessfully been able to put themselves in the mid-table for so may years while fews others are concerned to avoid themselves from relegation. At the moment, Bouddha Football Club (6), BUC (9), Machhindra Club (10) and Mahabir (12) are the bottom four.

MMC, TSC and TAC are following MPC closely in the league. Gap between these teams is nominal and the results between the top four teams will always play vital role in deciding the winners. The other factor, apart from the matches between these teams, could be the upset results, which the league have already witnessed in the first leg.

Despite having a very dissapointing start when it drew 0-0 against the new entrants Bouddha Football Club, MPC is the only team to finish the first leg with an unbeaten run. MPC’s run in the league is very fluctuating, drawing with the newcomers and making a good comeback in the middle and again slackening at the end.

Playing goal less draw against the fallen giants Freinds’ Club is an exmaple of their inconsistancy. They also drew with New Road Team (1-1) and TSC (2-2). It would not be easy for MPC to maintain its unbeaten record in the second leg as three of their key players - skipper Hari Khaka, striker Ramesh Budathoki and defender Rakesh Shrestha - have sustain injuries are not likely to return in short span of time. The only hope for the team could be their young breed, who helped MPC to a 2-2 draw against TSC in the last match.

The performance of MMC, Three Star and TAC is also not satisfactory. Second in the table with better goal difference than TSC (32), MMC lost to the Armymen and the Policemen with an identical 2-1 margin and also lost points against RCT and TSC. They need to be more consistant in the second leg to win the title but will have to find the proper player in place of star striker Basanta Thapa, who is leaving for Japan in few days.

Defending champions Three Star started the campaign with an upset 1-2 loss against the new entrants Gyanendra Armed Police Force (APF) Officers’ Club and suffered another loss to New Road Team (2-0). Three Star would not be complaining over the result with MMC (1-1) and MPC (2-2) considering the strength and might of these teams. The major worry for the team is the poor form of their ‘star’ players.

TAC had a perfect start in the league and was leading the table until they suffered their first loss against TSC (0-4) in the ninth round. They fell further behind after they were beaten by MPC (2-1) and a shocking 0-2 loss to Brigade Boys Club (0-2). Adding up to thier misery, Friends’ Club held them to 1-1. Each of the four contenders have suffered upsets so far which has kept balance between them but any upsets now on would pull them back in the run for the championship.

Basanta Thapa is on top of the highest scorers’ list with 19 goals, while Ramesh Budathoki (MPC) has 16 goals to his credit. Obagbimiro Junior (BBC) is one of the players who have succeeded to win the hearts of spectators for his quality performace. Junior and Janamat Karki have scored 12 goals each. Statistically, Machhindra Club has been playing fair game with only nine bookings so far compared to 29 yellow and three red cards of Boys’ Union Club.

Today’s matches

• RCT Vs JYC @ 12:30

• Sankata Vs BBC @ 2:30

• NRT Vs Friends @ 2:00 (Halchowk)