Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 23:

Skipper Hari Khadka scored the winner in the extra time as Mahendra Police Club (MPC) defeated Manang Marsyangdi Club (MMC) 2-1 in the semi-final of the Birthday Cup Football Tournament, here today. In Saturday’s final, the Policemen will face national league champions Three Star Club, who entered the final with a 6-4 win over Tribhuvan Army Club on Wednesday. At Dasharath Stadium, the match went into extra time after both the teams were locked at 1-1 in the normal time. Ananta Thapa put MPC ahead through a header in the 14th minute following Parbat Pandey’s cross. MMC replied with an equaliser in the 72nd minute through Nabin Neupane. The move was set when Basanta Thapa flicked Tashi Tshering’s pass over to skipper Kumar Thapa, who gave it to Neupane, and the former Under-23 national team skipper fired home from close range leaving MPC goalie Ritesh Thapa stranded.

In the 113th minute, MPC skipper Hari Khadka scored the winner on penalty. MPC was awarded the penalty kick after MMC defender Anil Subba unnecessarily brought down Dipak Poudel of MPC inside the D-Box with just two minutes remaining for the penalty shoot out. The match was a balanced one as both teams had equal number of chances to score, though MMC dominated the field in the second half. MMC almost took a lead in the firt minute when Rajan Raimajhi fired a curling left-footer from 10 yards, but a MPC defender cleared the ball.

In the fourth minute, MPC striker Ramesh Budhathoki was unlucky as his powerful shot from 25 yards hit the cross bar. MMC custodian Bikash Malla was spectacular in the ninth minute, when he denied MPC skipper Hari Khadka. Khum Gurung muffed up a chance following MMC skipper Kumar Thapa’s pass inside the D-Box in the 23rd minute. MPC skipper Hari Khadka was happy to beat their old rivals, while MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang was not happy with referee Gyani Raja Shrestha, who did not award the spot kick when MPC goalie Ritesh Thapa brought down MMC striker Basanta Thapa inside the D-Box. “That was also a foul, but the referee was in different mood at that time and we had to suffer,” said Lopsang, who admitted that Anil’s tackle was an offensive one.

MMC fans beaten

KATHAMNDU: The scene was not different to earlier ones. The MMC fans were beaten again, and by the Mahendra Police Club fans — cops but not in uniform — again. The reason: they support Manang Marsyangdi Club against the policemen. This has been a tradition at the Dasharath Stadium. Everytime, MMC fans get beaten by the MPC fans, who by hook or crook enter the parapit without tickets. And ANFA as usual remains helpless even the policemen — deployed for the security of the fans — charge batons to the victims. — HNS