POKHARA: Skipper Parbat Pandey scored a brace as defending champions Nepal Police Club (NPC) entered semi-finals of the eighth Aaha Gold Cup defeating hosts Sahara Club, Pokhara 2-1 here today.

In the first quarter-final match at the Pokhara Stadium, NPC enjoyed a better possession in the match but failed to find the back of the net in the first half. Pandey struck in the 52nd minute heading home a free kick from Rakesh Shrestha. The hosts bounced back in the match in the 67th minute after Pushpa Chhetri scored on a rebound ball.

Unmarked Chhetri easily converted the rebound ball that came off NPC goalie Ritesh Thapa while he tried to punch away a powerfully struck shot from Sushil KC. NPC, however, regained the lead two minutes later on a spot kick from man of the match Pandey. NPC were awarded the penalty after Man Bahadur Tamang handled a cross from NPC player inside the area.

Sahara were down to 10-man after Tamang was sent off after he handled the ball. NPC fielded their second choice team after most of their first choice players are representing Nepal in the 11th South Asian Games in Dhaka.

NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha his team failed to show their true colours. “We missed most of our first choice players so we couldn't give our best,” said Shrestha. Meanwhile, Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha expressed contentment over his team's satisfaction. Police will now take on the winner of Monday's quarter-final between Manang Marshyangdi Club and Dhaka Sporting Club of Bangladesh. Tribhuvan Army Club will play Machhindra Club in Sunday's second quarter-final match.