Sankata Club defeated African Roots Association 1-0 and advanced to the semi-finals of the sixth Birat Gold Cup here at the Martyrs Stadium today.

Ganesh Hamal scored the solitary goal of the match in the second half to send the former Birat Gold Cup champions Sankata into the last four. The 'A' division outfit will now face Punjab Police Club on Thursday for a place in the final. Punjab had defeated Martyrs Memorial A Division League champions Machhindra Football Club 2-0 in the quarter-final match.

After a goalless first half, Hamal opened the scoring in the 61st minute when he headed home following a cross from Odeh Glory. The goal turned out to the winning one as no team was able to score despite creating a couple of chances.

The two sides were competing for the second time in three days after they played in the final of the 19th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup in Pokhara on Saturday. Sankata had defeated ARA 4-2 on penalties after both the sides were deadlocked at 1-1 in regulation period and they failed to score in the extra time. The Cameroon-based team dominated the first half and Basseck came close to opening the scores in the 13th minute but he was denied by Sankata goalkeeper Raju Babu Thapa.

Sankata's Bishnu Sunar saw his close-range shot blocked by ARA goalkeeper DA Sylvio in the 26th minute, while his teammate Glory's powerful strike went wide in the 39th minute.

ARA's Basseck also ended up with a wide shot from 30 yards out in the 45th minute.

In the second half, Sankata custodian Thapa saved his team from going down in the 58th minute when he saved a powerful shot from Mfomo, while A Fabrice of ARA shot wide from the box moments before the final whistle. Sankata goalie Thapa was named the man of the match and he received Rs 10,000.

Sankata coach Salyan Khadgi lauded his players for their hard work. "The boys put in their 100 per cent in the match and we were able to win the match," he said. ARA coach Serge Boris was pleased with the team efforts but rued the missed opportunities. "We also missed the services of couple of players who were not able to come here from Pokhara," he said.

On Wednesday, Nepal APF Club will face Biratnagar-XI in the first semi-final match.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 14, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.