Lalitpur, December 27
Signature Manang Marshyangdi Club won the record eight title following their 3-1 victory over CMG Club Sankata in the Pulsar Martyrs Memorial A Division League here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.
With their 11th consecutive victory, MMC accumulated 33 points to open up eight-point lead over Sankata with two rounds remaining. As the league does not have a provision of relegation this time around, Sankata and Ruslan Three Star Club are expected to fight it out for second place.
Three Star are currently at the third position with 23 points from 10 matches, while fourth-placed Tribhuvan Army Club are fourth with 18 points, one more than Himalayan Sherpa Club and Nepal APF Club.
MMC took the lead one minute before the first half, thanks to an own goal from Roshan Pahari. Sankata goalkeeper Raja Babu Thapa tried to punch the ball out on a corner kick from Bishal Rai but it entered the goal taking a deflection on Pahari. Pujan Uparkoti then doubled the tally in the 81st minute when he headed home following a corner from Rai moments after replacing Sujal Shrestha.
Bishal Rai was at the centre stage in the match as he also set the third goal for the team in the 87th minute. This time, Adelaja Somide headed home following a cross from Rai. Cedric Aba scored the consolation goal for Sankata in the 90th minute.
With their eighth league title, MMC will be richer by five million rupees. Ranipokhari Corner Team, who are currently in B Division, have won the league six times, while Three Star and New Road Team are further behind with four each.
As the league champions, MMC will also have the opportunity to participate in the AFC Cup in April next year. MMC are drawn in Group E along with India’s Minerva Punjab FC, Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka and one team from playoff. Three Star had advanced to the second round of event before the ANFA snubbed their chance by not registering the team on time despite several alert from the Asian Football Confederation. ANFA later paid Three Star with Rs 15 million in compensation after the club boycotted football activities run by the governing body.
In the day’s another match, Nepal APF Club and Valley Chyasal Youth Club played a 1-1 draw. Santa Bahadur Tamang put Chyasal ahead in the 30th minute in rebound after Santosh Kumar Katwal blocked Bishwo Adhikari’s initial shot.
APF wasted a penalty in 42nd minute after Chyasal goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar saved Sudip Sikhrakar’s shot from the spot. APF had earned the penalty after Chyasal skipper Devendra Tamang brought down Ashish Lama inside the area. APF, whoever, levelled the scores in the 54th minute when Shyam Nepal’s powerful shot left Chyasal custodian Thapa Magar stranded. Chyasal were reduced to 10 men in 77th minute after Gaurav Budhathoki was expelled for second yellow card but APF failed to take any benefit out of numeric advantage.
A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.