Machhindra claim maiden league crown

Kathmandu, February 15

Tribhuvan Army Club defender Bikash Tamang netted an own goal as San Miguel Machhindra Club defeated the departmental side 1-0 to win their maiden title of the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

Tamang scored into his own nets while trying to clear the ball after Ranjit Dhimal centred the ball with a wonderful free kick in the 33rd minute.

TAC goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu was injured when he collided with a player in the crowded d-box and he was taken to nearby Blue Cross Hospital in ambulance after initial treatment on the pitch. The match resumed nine minutes later after Biswas Chaudhary replaced Kuthu.

TAC goalkeeper Biswas Chaudhary rescued his side in the 61st minute when he outstretched his hands to clear an attempt from Devendra Tamang following a pass from Bishal Rai ‘B’. TAC came close to levelling the scores in the 68th minute but skipper Bharat Khawas was unlucky as his low header struck against Machhindra defender Bishal Shrestha before being cleared out.

Bikash Tamang of TAC thought he found the nets in the first minute of the injury time but the goal-bound ball was headed out by Bishal Rai ‘B’ from the goalline at time when Machhindra goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha was nowhere near to save the shot. In the second half, Machhindra had two goals disallowed, one each for offside and foul. Andreas Nia of Machhindra was named the Kelme man of the match.

A draw was enough for TAC to win their maiden title, while Machhindra needed an outright victory and the teams were separated by an own goal. TAC failed to claim the title from similar position for the second time as they were outplayed 3-1 by fellow departmental side Nepal Police Club in 2006-07.

With their 10th win in 13 matches, Machhindra — who had a point deducted for finishing second from bottom in the non-relegation league last season — finished at the top with 31 points, while TAC slipped to second with 29 points.

Defending champions and record eight-time winners NOC Manang Marshyangdi Club were third with 28 points, while four-time champions Ruslan Three Star Club came fourth with 26. Nepal Police Club (20) and Prabhu Jawalakhel Youth Club (19) finished in Super Six. Top six teams also earned berths in next year’s national league.

Likewise, Sankata Club (18), New Road Team (15), Chyasal Youth Club (15) and Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club (14) finished in top 10, while NIBL Friends Club came 11th on inferior goal difference to Sherpa after being tied on 14 points. Nepal APF Mahindra Football Team and Brigade Boys Club were 12th and 13th position respectively on goal difference after they earned nine points. Saraswoti Youth Club, who accumulated four points from 13 matches, were relegated to B division.

Champions Machhindra received five million rupees along with the trophy, while TAC earned Rs 3.5 million.

MMC goalkeeper Deep Karki, Three Star defender Ananta Tamang, Machhindra midfielder Bishal Rai ‘B’ and TAC forward Bharat Khawas won the individual awards along with Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal. They earned Rs 150,000 each.

Likewise, Darshan Gurung of NRT won the best youth player award instituted in memory of former national team skipper Mani Shah. Gurung received Rs 100,000.