NPC stun Three Star, advance to final

Pokhara, March 11

Nepal Police Club defeated defending champions Ruslan Three Star Club 3-0 and advanced to the final of the 18th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament here at the Pokhara Stadium today.

Nir Kumar Rai scored a brace and skipper Bharat Shah netted one goal for the departmental side in the first semi-final match of the tournament.

Shah opened the scoring in the eighth minute when he slammed home from inside the box following a pass from Ravi Paswan.

Rai doubled the tally in the 51st minute after his shot from tight angle entered the post despite Three Star goalkeeper Purna Chemjong getting his hands to the ball. Rai put the issue beyond doubt with his second goal of the match when he found the back of the nets after being fed by Tej Tamang in the 72nd minute.

Earlier, Three Star came close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute but Sanjok Rai headed off the target on a free kick from Mikchen Tamang, while Aashish Rai wasted a chance for the departmental outfit in the 20th minute.

Three Star’s Ananta Tamang muffed up an opportunity from the box in the 34th minute, whereas NPC goalkeeper Roshan Khadka saved Sanjok Rai’s header in the 59th minute.

Sanjok Rai wasted another chance moments later as Three Star struggled in front of the goal despite creating ample opportunities. Nir Kumar Rai of NPC was named the man of the match.

Three Star coach Meghraj KC rued the missed opportunities.

“Win or loss are parts of the game. We were not up to the mark today as we failed to score and the players wasted so many chances,” said KC. ‘NPC beat them with pace and they put up a better show today.”

NPC coach Ananta Raj Thapa was satisfied with his side’s performance. “We played a good game today,” said the former national team midfielder, adding his team was one of the title contenders.

The six-time champions NPC had made it to the semis beating hosts Sahara Club 4-2 in penalty shootout, while five-time winners Three Star had registered a 3-0 victory over Gangtok Football Club.

NPC will now face the winners of Thursday’s second semi-final match between Tribhuvan Army Club and NOC Manang Marshyangdi Club. The final is scheduled for Saturday.