Regar TadAZ qualify

KATHMANDU: Nepal Police Club (NPC) failed to advance to the final round of the AFC President’s Cup when they drew 2-2 against Regar TadAZ of Tajikistan in the Group ‘A’ qualifying tournament at the Dasharath Stadium today.

The draw combined with a 3-1 win by WAPDA of Pakistan against Tiawan Power Company (TPC) of Chinese Taipei sent Regar TadAZ to the semi-finals. The defending champions advanced on better number of goals scored after finishing equal on points and goal difference with WAPDA.

Both Regar TadAZ and WAPDA earned five points from three matches. Regar TadAZ scored five goals and conceded three while WAPDA scored three and conceded one. TPC, who beat NPC 3-2, finished third with three points while the 2007 finalists NPC ended bottom of the table with two points.

Chetan Ghimire, who was later adjudged the most valuable player, scored both the goals for NPC while Shujoat Nematov and Maruf Rustamov converted for Regar TadAZ. The departmental team should have taken the lead in the 14th minute had striker Chetan not missed a sitter following a wonderful pass from Parbat Pandey. With all the time and space to guide the ball into the nets, Chetan instead shot straight into the hands of Regar TadAZ goalkeeper Umedjon Khojimuratov. Pandey’s attempt on the rebound was cleared by defender Davronjon Ergashev from the goalline. The NPC, however, had a scare early in the third minute when Kamil Saidov hit the crossbar.

The defending champions went ahead in the 24th minute with Nematov slotting home after controlling the long pass from midfield. Regar TadAZ goalkeeper Khojimuratov, who made as many as half a dozen saves, blocked Yogesh Shrestha’s attempt in the 27th minute. Yogesh himself took the corner and Chetan headed home the equaliser.

Khojimuratov made yet another brilliant save five minutes later, denying Bhola Silwal’s powerful shot. The visitors regained their lead again two minutes after the break. Rustamov fired into the top of the roof following a corner from Sardorbek Eminov. The home team fought back to equalise in the 64th minute. Chetan just needed to guide the ball into the nets when frontman Ju Manu Rai headed towards the goal following a corner kick from Bhola.

NPC then pressed hard and came close thrice in the last 20 minutes but each time Regar TadAZ custodian Khojimuratov foiled their attempts. Khojimuratov denied NPC twice in the 69th minute, first diving full length to disappoint Parbat Pandey before saving Suman Subedi’s header. The keeper was also quick to respond to Bhola Silwal’s freekick in the 80th minute. Khojimuratov again rescued his team in the second half injury time denying Chetan.

Regar TadAZ coach Makhmadjon Khabibulloev said they under-performed today. “We should have played better despite the opponents (NPC) being a tough team,” added Khabibulloev. NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha said his team looked better against WAPDA than today. “We were able to score today but we had performed better against WAPDA,” he added.

In the other match, WAPDA rallied from a goal down to beat TPC to keep alive their hopes of making it to the semi-finals as the best runner up team. Ching Jen Fand provided TPC the lead on a pass from Hsiang Yu Hsu in the 10th minute. WAPDA equalised through skipper Arifi penalty in the 73rd after Ming Feng Tu handled the ball inside the danger zone. Arifi made it 2-1 capitalising on a pass from Mehmood in the 81st minute before Naveed Akram Muhammad scored the third on a pass from Khuda Bakhsh in the 89th.