Lalitpur, February 13
Skipper Jumanu Rai scored a second half hat-trick as Nepal Police Club defeated NIBL Friends Club 3-0 in their last match of the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.
NPC coach Ananta Raj Thapa brought in Rai in place of Hemanta Shrestha after the goalless first half and the former national team striker did the magic scoring two goals in the space of seven minutes before completing his hat-trick five minutes before the end.
Rai became the only second player to score a hat-trick in the ongoing league after Ruslan Three Star Club’s Sanjok Rai, who had netted a treble against Saraswoti Youth Club.
Rai broke the deadlock with an easy goal after Friends goalkeeper Dev Limbu spilled the ball four minutes into the second half. Rai then doubled the tally seven minutes later after he buried the ball into the nets with a powerful right-footed shot from the box. Rai completed his hat-trick with a goal in the 85th minute when he placed the ball into the far corner of the goal and he also earned the Kelme man-of-thematch award.
With their sixth victory of the league, NPC accumulated 20 points and sneaked into the top five. Only Prabhu Jawalakhel Youth Club can oust them from the fifth position as the Lalitpur-based club have 19 points. NIBL Friends remained at the 10th position with 14 points.
In another match, substitute Bijay Gurung scored the equaliser in the injury time as Brigade Boys Club salvaged a 1-1 draw with Nepal APF Mahindra Football Team. Aashish Lama put the departmental side ahead with a header following a sublime cross from Nabin Lama in the 44th minute.
At a time when the match was heading towards the end, Bijay Gurung levelled the scores in the third minute of the injury time, two minutes after skipper Anil Gurung’s attempt rounding up goalkeeper Amrit Chaudhary was cleared by APF defender Birendra Prakash Yadav. Nabin Lama of APF was named the Kelme man of the match.
Both APF and BBC accumulated nine points with identical two wins and three draws but the departmental side finished 12th on superior goal difference.
BBC, with minus-10 goal difference to minus-six of APF, ended the campaign at 13th place.
In the last match of the day, Sankata Club hammered already-relegated Saraswoti Youth Club 6-2. Massouke Etiegnie Oloumou Pierre Gean Marie scored a brace and Suvash Gurung, Tika Raj Gurung and Roshan Pahadi netted one each for Sankata, while Saraswoti defender Purna Bahadur Shrestha scored an own goal.
Kazeem Adegoke Mwankina replied for Saraswoti, who were also gifted with an own goal from Sankata defender Ernest Tempi. Suvash Gurung of Sankata was named the Kelme man of the match. With the win, Sankata wrapped up the league with 18 points and are at the seventh position, Chyasal Youth Club and New Road Team have 15 points each and they can overtake Sankata. Saraswoti were relegated to B division after they finished at the bottom of the 14-team table with just four points.
Tribhuvan Army Club are at the top with 29 points, one more than San Miguel Machhindra Club. Defending champions NOC Manang Marshyangdi Club are third with 25 points, while Ruslan Three Star Club are at the fourth position with 23 points. The next three matches of the final round — Sherpa vs NRT; Three Star vs Chyasal; and JYC vs MMC — are slated for Friday, while TAC and Machhindra will face each other at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday. TAC can claim the maiden title with a draw, whereas Machhindra need an outright victory to lift their first league crown.
A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.