Manang Marsyangdi win sixth league title

Kathmandu, February 21:

Manang Marsyangdi Club (MMC) clinched its sixth title beating defending champions Nabil Three Star Club (TSC) 1-0 in the Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League Football amidst a capacity crowd at Dasharath Stadium.

MMC also equalled the record of most wins, held by Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) with six league titles. MMC had earlier won the titles in 1887, 1988, 1990, 2001 and 2004 while RCT were champions in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1982, and 1985.

Coming into the game, MMC had psychological advantage over Three Star needing just a draw while the latter was in a must-win situation. The pressure was seen on the defending champions right from the beginning. Three Star never looked like winning as MMC dominated the game.

MMC’s Nigerian striker Nurudeen Olawale Salau scored the winner three minutes into the second half injury time. With almost all the Three Star players up in a offensive line, Salau took the ball from the midfield on a Basanta Gauchan’s pass before firing past Three Star goalkeeper Upendra Man Singh.

Except for Pradip Maharjan’s free kick that hit the cross bar in the 31st minute, Three Star hardly threatened MMC goalkeeper Bikash Malla. MMC, on the other hand, were close to scoring thrice.

Three Star goalie Singh saved Prashant Giri’s free kick in the 53rd minute. MMC wasted a certain goal in the 59th minute due to a mix-up among Salau, Stanley Cyprian and Basanta Gauchan inside the six-yard box. In the 86th minute, Singh saved Salau’s shot in a solitary encounter.

Jubilant MMC coach Chhring Lopsang Gurung said that he was expecting to win by at least two-goal margin. “We were keen to lift the title with a win and not with a draw. Thankfully we were able to achieve the objective.”

Technical director of Three Star Kumar Katuwal said that the absence of defender Pralay Rajbhandari disrupted the balance of the team. “We had to field younger player that made our defence weak.”

He also added midfielders and the strikers did not perform to their potential. “Considering the importance of the match, Lok Bandhu Gurung, Anjan KC and Pradip Maharjan played despite being injured,” he said, adding that the game was all about win and loss and we accept the defeat.

• I really respect the evaluation. I could only play half the matches due to injury but played well. I am happy to get recognised my effort. —Ramesh Budhathoki (best striker)

• If it wasn’t for the support of my team and fans, I wouldn’t have won the award. I had performed well as did in the last season and happy to have been selected. — Ritesh Thapa ( best GK)

• I have worked hard throughout the league and happy to have the honour. I was aware that I was one of the competent but not expecting it. — Sagar Thapa (best defender)

• There were several other better players than me in the league and I am delighted to have been picked up as the best midfielder. — Vishan Gauchan (best midfielder)

• It’s an honour to be named as the best coach. There are many senior and better coaches and to be selected as best among them is delightful. — Chhiring Lopsang Gurung (best coach)