Kathmandu, January 25:

The Red Team prevailed 4-2 over Blue Team in a friendly match between the former national footballers organised by Rupak Memorial Foundation (RMF) at the Dasharath Stadium today.

Maheshwor Mulmi, Dhirendra Pradhan, Narendra Shrestha and Bal Gopal Maharjan scored for the Red while Birat Jung Shahi and Ganesh Thapa netted a goal apiece for the Blue team, in the match dubbed as ‘Searching Rupak at Dasharath Stadium’.

The match was a part of the week-long programmes organised by the RMF to mark the 53rd birth anniversary of FIFA referee and national team skipper late Rupak Raj Sharma died in a airplane crash on September 28, 1992.

Unlike normal days at Dasharath Stadium, where professional players run after the ball, the day witnessed the veterans, who once represented the country, struggling for the ball. Former IGP Achyut Krishna Kharel led the Red whereas Komal Pandey, now chief curator at the Cricket Association of Nepal, captained the Blue team.

Many of the veterans who played in the match are still active in football one way or the other. ANFA president Ganesh Thapa, director of ANFA Youth Development Project YB Ghale, Tribhuvan Army Club coach Babu Kaji Dhaubanjar, ANFA treasurer Birat Jung Shahi, coordinator of Referee Committee at the national league Sriram Ranjitkar, ANFA technical director Bhim Thapa, Friends Club coach Ashok KC, Three Star coach Bal Gopal Maharjan, ANFA joint secretary Dhirendra Pradhan, Sankata coach Maheshwor Mulmi and RCT coach Dhana Bahadur Basnet are among the veterans still active in football.

Some of the veterans showed why they were the best of their time. Star striker of his time Ganesh Thapa scored with a superb bicycle kick, while Dhirendra Pradhan’s accurate drive into the second bar from 25 yards was unstoppable to any good goalkeeper.

Mrigendra Mishra saved a spot kick from Rupal Shumsher Rana, whereas Birat Jung Shahi’s stamina at his 40s was remarkable. Binod Kharel’s judgement behind the bars was superb while Raju Kaji Shakya still exhibited his gruelling pace and accurate crosses.

RMF president Deep Kumar Upadhyaya handed over the certificates to the referees and players.