MMC pip Sahara, claim fifth title

Pokhara, January 28

Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club clinched the title of the 15th Aaha Rara Gold Cup football tournament here at the Pokhara Stadium today.

Kamal Shrestha's solitary goal in the second half was enough for the defending champions MMC to edge past hosts Sahara Club 1-0 and claim their fifth title of the tournament.

Man-of-the-match Shrestha put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute when his powerful shot from 30 yards out found the back of the nets leaving Sahara custodian Sujit Gurung, who completely failed to judge the direction of the ball, stranded.

Sahara, who were successful in their defensive approach in the previous two matches, did stop MMC in the one-sided first half. But they were simply undone by the powerful strike from Shrestha.

Sahara should have taken the lead a couple of minutes before conceding the goal but Uttam Gurung struck against the woodwork at a time when MMC goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar was already beaten.

Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha said his team was unlucky after Gurung’s shot hit the top bar. "However, I am happy with the way our players performed against MMC," said Shrestha.

MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung said his side found it hard to score against Sahara. "We were made to wait for a long time to score as my players did not follow the instruction. I had asked the players to guide the ball from the wings and cross at the centre. And the defensive approach from the hosts also made it difficult to penetrate through the lead," said Gurung.

Champions MMC earned Rs 501,101, while runners-up Sahara received Rs 251,001. Tournament's best player and the best goalkeeper Sujit Gurung of Sahara won a Hero scooty and Rs 15,000.

MMC's Kamal Shrestha was named the best defender, while his teammate Sujal Shrestha won the award for the best midfielder. Sahara's Shiva Subedi was adjudged the best striker and Kiran Shrestha received the best coach's award. Jhapa-XI striker Karna Subba, who scored three goals, was the highest scorer of the tournament. The individual award winners got Rs 15,000 each.