Himalayan News Service

Pokhara, January 19:

Manang Marsyangdi Club (MMC) defeated hosts Sahara ‘Red’ 3-1 and entered the final of the third Aha Gold Cup Football Tournament, which has been organised by Sahara Club, here today.

At Pokhara Stadium, the defending champions MMC took the lead through local hero Basanta Gauchan in the 23rd minute on Basanta Thapa’s pass inside the D-Box. Thapa in turn took the pass from Rajesh Shahi and set the ball for Gauchan. Star striker Basanta Thapa doubled the tally for MMC in the 50th minute. Thapa took advantage of misunderstanding between Sahara defender and goalkeeper. Custodian Bikash Malla had come out of his position to gather the ball, but could not take control and Thapa capitalised on the opportunity.

Sahara ‘Red’ reduced the margin in the 61st minute, when Bishnu KC found the net following his skipper Chandra Tamang’s free kick. The home team played with 10 men for the last 15 minutes after Bishnu KC was injured. Sahara could not field a substitute as they had already completed their quota of three substitutions. Sunil Subedi scored the third goal for MMC in the dying moments and put the issue beyond doubt. MMC striker Basanta Gauchan was named the man of the match.

The match was interrupted for about five minutes during the injury time after Sahara Club players protested referee Gyani Raja Shrestha’s decision. Sahara Club players engaged in fist fight with the MMC players and the referee, who turned down a penalty appeal after a Sahara Club striker fell down colliding with MMC goalkeeper Binod Dangol inside the penalty area. “They (Sahara players) started fighting without any reason,” said Tshering Lopsang, MMC coach, who was visibly upset by the incident. “All this happened due to lack of security pers0onnel on the field and the organisers have to think about it so that these kind of ugly incidents do not occur in future,” he added.

“It’s sad that the Sahara Club players were engaged in such an incident, as Sahara has done a lot in the development of the football in Pokhara,” commented football fan Sudarsan Ranjit.

On Thursday, national league winners Three Star Club will take on runners-up Mahendra Police Club in the other semi-final match at the same venue.