NPC stuns MMC to enter Aaha Rara Gold Cup semis

POKHARA: Nepal Police Club has advanced to the semifinals of the 16th Aaha Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament recording an impressive 3-1 win over defending champion Manang Marshyangdi Club, on Tuesday.

Nir Kumar Rai, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Suman Lama struck one goal each for NPC whereas Bishal Rai scored consolation goal for MMC in the tournament's last quarterfinal clash. Departmental side NPC will now face Dharan Football Club in tournament's first semifinal encounter on Thursday.

At Pokhara Stadium, first 45 minutes between two A Division sides was ended goalless with all four goals coming inside the second half.

Nir Kumar Rai put NPC on the driving seat scoring an opener in the 53rd minute and created for Dinesh Rajbanshi for his team's second goal, four minutes later. Star-studded MMC side which was given a direct entry to the quarterfinal conceded third goal in the 72nd minute with Suman Lama netting beautiful goal beating opponent's goalie Dinesh Thapa Magar.

National team midfielder Bishal Rai scored the consolation goal in 82nd for his team. Despite having two former national team strikers Anil Gurung and Santosh Sahukhala, MMC's conversion was poor.

After facing an exit from the tournament without a single win, MMC coach Tshering Lopsang said that his team missed his foreign signings. "I am not surprised with this loss because we couldn't field our important players (African recruits) since they have not received work permit otherwise result could have been different," said Lopsang.

He also praised NPC's performance. "Our team is dependent on foreign recruits but NPC is full of domestic players and they work very hard." added Lopsang.

Likewise, NPC coach Ananta Raj Thapa said that his players played according to the plan. "Today, my players executed the game perfectly and we will play even better football against Dharan in last four clash," said Thapa.

In first semifinal match scheduled for Wednesday, Three Star Club will face visiting team Uttar Baridhara FC of Bangladesh.