Manang edge past Sahara, advance to final

Hetauda, January 5

Defending champions Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club defeated Sahara Club 1-0 to advance to the final of the second Tuborg Hetauda Gold Cup International Invitational Football Tournament here at the Forestry University grounds today.

Afiz Olawale scored the solitary goal of the match in the eighth minute as the ‘A’ Division outfit struggled against the Pokhara-based club. Sahara regrouped after conceding an early goal and did create opportunities but they failed to convert any.

MMC almost doubled the lead in the 11th minute when Bimal Rana charged the post from close range only to see Shiva Subedi clear the ball with a header. Six minutes later, Rana again came close but this time his shot went inches wide of the post. Olawale almost doubled the tally in the injury time of first half but Sahara goalkeeper Sujit Gurung made a spectacular save.

At the other end, Bishnu Gurung missed a chance to level the scores in the 20th minute, while defender Laxman GC’s powerful shot was saved by MMC custodian Laxman GC in the 42nd minute. In the 62nd minute, MMC’s Sisiko saved a goal-bound strike from Saroj Yonjan, while Yonjan ended up with a wide shot in the 82nd minute. Fan-favourite Sahara also wasted other chances as they missed a chance of an upset victory.

MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung accepted his team lacked the coordination in the match. “We won the match only because Sahara could not convert their chances, otherwise their game was well above than ours,” said Gurung. “I think our players were overconfident today and we will have to correct the mistakes of this match and work harder in the final.”

Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha was satisfied with his team’s performance. “We were able to put a strong team having experienced players under pressure and I think that was our achievement,” said Shrestha. “We created a number of goal scoring opportunities but failed in finishing.”

MMC skipper Biraj Maharjan was named the man-of-the-match and he received a trophy and Rs 3,000 sponsored by Forestry University. MMC will now face either Prime Polyclinic Bijay Youth Club or Tribhuvan Army Club in the Saturday’s final. The second semi-final match is slated for Friday. A total of 10 teams participated in the tournament organised by Suman Bhomjan Memorial Foundation under the sponsorship of Gorkha Brewery.