Policemen held, Manang win

Kathmandu, August 27:

Newly promoted Bouddha Football Club held Mahendra Police Club to a goalless draw and Basanta Thapa scored the first hat-trick of the tournament as Manang Marsyangdi Club thrashed another promoted team Machhindra Football Club 6-0 at the Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League Football Tournament here today. The Policemen, who finished runner-up in the last two leagues, were threatened in many occasions by the Bouddha FC, who were promoted to ‘A’ division after they finished second in the last year’s ‘B’ division league. Bouddha, playing their first league match, dominated the policemen and had more opportunities than the departmental team. They missed as many as five certain goals, while MPC striker Hari Khadka failed to convert the spot kick.

Bouddha should have taken the lead through Ranjit Lama in the 18th minute, but the skipper hit the post following Naresh Khatri’s pass, while Pradeep Kunwar ended with a wide shot just before the first half whistle. On the other hand, MPC created one move in the first half, but Kishor Subba’s attempt from the tight angle, following Ananta Thapa’s pass, was foiled by Bouddha FC goalkeeper Dasharath Adhikari. The Arjun Lama’s men had more chances in the second half, but the poor finishing cost them two important points. Naresh Khatri failed to score in one-to-one situation with MPC goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa after beating defender Anil Adhikari in the 47th minute, while Pradeep Kunwar muffed up a certain goal when he failed to convert in an open net three minutes later.

Hari Khadka came close to scoring in the 53rd minute, but Bouddha goalkeeper Adhikari punched back the MPC striker’s powerful shot from the edge of the area and Ramesh Budhathoki ended up with a wide shot in rebound. Bouddha FC were unlucky in the 73rd minute as skipper Ranjit Lama failed to score in an open net in counter-attack. MPC earned a spot kick in the 80th minute when Bouddha custodian Adhikari brought down Ananta Thapa inside the penalty area, but Hari ended up hitting the post. “Our team was technically sound in today’s match, but we failed to utilise the opportunities,” said Bouddha coach Arjun Lama, who guided MMC to the league victory two years ago. “They might have taken us lightly, but lack of experience was the only reason we failed to win today,” he added. Admitting that the Bouddha FC played well today, MPC coach Yogumber Suwal said that the ground condition hampered his team’s play. “Our five players including defender Narottam Gautam, are injured,” he clarified.

In the other match, Machhindra FC stopped the MMC in the first half, but failed to keep the tempo and conceded six goals in the last 25 minutes of the second. Basanta Thapa became the first to score hat-trick when he netted five goals, taking his league-tally to 67 goals. Basanta Gauchan, who assisted Basanta Thapa in his four goals, scored the other goal. After a goalless first half, which saw Machhindra Football Club creating few moves, Thapa opened the scoring in the 65th minute. The highest goal scorer of the last year’s league, Thapa beat a defender and Machhindra FC goalkeeper Binod Dangol following Gauchan’s pass. Fed by Gauchan, Thapa headed home the second goal in the 66th minute. Thapa completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute when he beat past Machhindra goalkeeper Dangol, his former teammate. He added other two goals in the 77th and 80th minutes, while Basanta Gauchan scored in the injury time when his powerful shot from outside the penalty area deflected to a defender before kissing the net.