Nepal creep into semi-finals

Kathmandu, March 11:

Jumanu Rai’s solitary goal against Pakistan saw Nepal ‘Red’ creep into the semi-finals of the PM Cup Invitational Football Tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

The win means the home side advanced as Group ‘B’ winners with four points from two matches while Pakistan are out of the competition after earning just one point. Arambagh Kriasangha of Bangladesh are also through as runners up from Group ‘B’ with two points. The hosts will play Group ‘A’ runners up JW Team of Thailand on Friday.

Nepal ‘Red’ pressed forward for a goal from early on and were close to scoring twice in the first 16 minutes. Armyman Raju Tamang shot off target in the 11th minute on a left wing cross from Bijay Gurung and Pakistan goalkeeper Jaffar Khan saved Anjan KC’s freekick five minutes later. Both the teams needed victory to ensure their place in the final four and Pakistan also had a shot on target in the 26th minute but goalie Bikash Malla denied a freekick struck by Mohammad Rasool.

New Road Team defender Sagar Thapa missed a sitter six minutes after the break. Thapa failed to connect a close ranged header supplied by a corner from Bijay Gurung. But, the Nepal Police Club striker Jumanu Rai scored the winner heading home on Raju Tamang’s corner kick in the 65th minute.

Nepal ‘Red’ coach Yogamber Suwal said his boys performed better today. “We were confident

we could beat the opponents,” added Suwal. Skipper Rakesh Shrestha credited the team work

for their win.

Pakistan team manager Syed Nasir Ismail said that the match was competitive. “They (Nepal) were motivated playing in front of home crowd,” said Ismail.

Ismail, however, was unhappy with the organisers for including local linesmen in the match.

“There always remain doubt in the mind of the opponents when you include local linesmen,” said the Pakistan team manager.