Ajayi nets first hat-trick of the league as the newly-promoted side go atop


Newly-promoted Satdobato Youth Club maintained their unbeaten run in the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League with a 4-1 victory over Nepal APF Club, while Friends Club held Three Star Club to a 1-1 draw here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

Martins Kayode Ajayi netted league's first hat-trick, while Sushil Rai scored one for Satdobato.

APF - who faced their third straight loss - got to the score sheet through an own goal from Satdobato defender Karan Rawat. The second victory in three matches put Satdobato at the top of the table with seven points, one more than Manang Marshyangdi Club, who have accumulated maximum six from two games.

Satdobato went into the break with a two-goal cushion and added two more after the break. Ajayi put Satdobato ahead in the 43rd minute after he found the back of the nets on a pass from Sudip Gurung.

Prashant Awasthi came close to doubling the lead a minute later but substitute goalkeeper Dil Kumar Yonghang Limbu saved his shot.

APF were forced to field third-choice goalkeeper Limbu after Amrit Kumar Chaudhary was injured in the 19th minute. Chaudhary had replaced regular custodian Raju Yogi, who is out injured for at least two weeks. Ajayi made it 2-0 in the fifth minute of the first half injury time in rebound after his initial shot was blocked by APF goalie Limbu.

APF cut the deficit four minutes into the second half after Satdobato's Karan Rawat put the ball into his own nets while trying to block a shot from Bikey Tamang. Satdobato restored the two-goal lead a minute later when Sushil Rai beat APG goalkeeper Limbu in one-on-one situation. Ajayi completed the hat-trick in the 58th minute when he netted the team's fourth goal in rebound after APF custodian Limbu failed to collect the initial strike.

Satdobato coach Meghraj KC said the sudden rain hampered the performance of his players. "I am not satisfied with the overall show of the team. I am happy that we won with a good margin but I am not convinced with the players' performance on the field," said KC. "We did not play well today but we were able to score only because the APF were forced to field an inexperienced goalkeeper. APF's game was better than ours but they failed to charge much on our goal," he added.

APF coach Kumar Thapa looked frustrated with the team's poor run and said he really felt the pressure of saving the club after the third consecutive loss. "We had to win the match to ease the pressure and the team showed the intent of a comeback with an early goal in the second half," said Thapa. "But that did not happen and we are now under tremendous pressure after losing nine points," added the former national team star midfielder.

"We had to send in goalkeeper Dil Kumar Yonghang Limbu after Amrit got injured and that also played a role in big loss as he was playing his first match at the Dasharath Stadium," he said. "The luck was also not on our part as we saw missed opportunities, clearance from goalline and brilliant saves from Satdobato goalkeeper," added Thapa.

Earlier, Three Star Club rallied to salvage a point against Friends Club. After a goalless first half, Friends took the lead in the 61st minute through Nathaniel Jude Garcia's header following a pass from his skipper Prakash Budhathoki.

Three Star levelled the scores in the 83rd minute when Mikchen Tamang found the back of the nets with a close-range shot.

The draw meant three-time league winners and title contenders Three Star dropped five points in three matches.

They made a brilliant start to the campaign with a 3-0 victory over neighbouring Chyasal Youth Club but went on to face a 1-0 defeat at the hands of newcomers Satdobato in the next match.

Friends, who have a sole target of avoiding relegation, accumulated two points after their second draw in three matches.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 4, 2021 of The Himalayan Times.