Sahara shoot Sikkim out, enter semi-finals

Pokhara, January 21

Hosts Sahara Club of Pokhara defeated Sikkim United FC of India 4-2 in penalty shootout to advance to the semi-finals of the 15th Aaha Rara Gold Cup here at the Pokhara Stadium today.

The winners of the match were decided through the spot kick battle after both the teams failed to score in the regulation period of 90 minutes and 30 minutes of added time. Sushan Gurung, Shiva Subedi, Ramesh Magar and skipper Uttam Gurung converted their spot kicks for hosts Sahara, while Sanjay Chhetri and Phurba Chhiring Bhutiya were the scorers for Sikkim. Sonam Topden hit wide, while Aashish Chhetri's shot was saved by Sahara goalkeeper Sujit Gurung.

Sikkim's Sanjay Chhetri was named the man-of-the-match and received Rs 3,000. The result meant Sikkim FC were eliminated from the first match for the second straight year.

Earlier, both the teams created a couple of goal scoring opportunities but failed to break the deadlock. Sikkim’s Nadong Bhutiya came close to scoring twice but he could not convert them. Bhutiya ended up hitting the cross bar in the 29th minute, while he failed to score in the 62nd minute. At the other end, Sahara's Ajayi Martins Koyade — who netted twice in the opening match against Far-west — made a number of attacks at the Sikkim goal but he too failed to find the back of the nets.

Sikkim coach Arjun Rai said his side was unlucky to loss the match despite playing better than the opponents. Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha accepted the touring side put up a good show. "They played well but we were unable to score in the regulation period," said Shrestha.

On Sunday, Dharan FC will play against Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club in the second quarter-final match.