Three Star Club vs Policemen: Thriller on cards

Mahesh Acharya

Kathmandu, June 24:

Three Star Club will take on Mahendra Police Club in the final of the Birthday Cup football

tournament final at Dasharath Stadium on Saturday. Three Star Club are vying for the first Birthday Cup in their second final appearance and also first title in Kathmandu, while the policemen are playing in their eighth final, with three Birthday Cup titles under their belt. Three Star had entered the Birthday Cup final 20 years ago and lost to Darjeeling XI. The Policemen won the Birthday Cup in 1976, 77 and 1980. The tournament is important for Hari Khadka, as the MPC striker is leading the team for the first time. For coach Yogumber Suwal, this is the 26th final appearance, with 17 titles already to his name. “As both the teams are strong and balanced, the chances are be 50-50,” said MPC skipper Hari Khadka. “Whoever utilises the opportunities, they will walk away with the trophy,” he added. “We won’t take them lightly as they are the national league champions and also performed well in the AFC President’s Cup,” said Khadka about the Three Star Club. He also said that the policemen would play with the same squad and attacking strategy.

In their last encounter at Tribhuvan Memorial Gold Cup held in Jhapa, the policemen defeated Three Star Club 2-0 in the semi-finals. The policemen have had the upper hand in other knock-out tournaments too. They defeated Three Star Club in Himalayan Bank Cup in December 2004, and Aha Gold Cup in January. Three Star Club skipper-cum-goalkeeper Upendra Man Singh was also expressed same views as Hari did. “Any side can win the trophy,” said Singh. “We lost many matches to them (MPC) last year, so we are not going to take them lightly,” he added. “They are a set team, but the return of Surendra Tamang has boosted our confidence,” said Singh, who retired from international team after the AFC President’s Cup. In the last year’s Martyrs’ Memorial National League, Three Star Club defeated the policemen 2-0 in the league round, and the match in Super Six ended in a goalless draw. The Super Six match was like a final, as the winner was to walk away with the crown. A draw was enough for Three Star to bag the league title after seven years. MPC were also the runners-up when MMC won the league title in 2003.

Birthday Cup final under lights

KATHMANDU: The All Nepal Football Association today said that the second half of the Birthday Cup final between Three Star Club and Mahendra Police Club will be held under lights. As per the fixtures, the match was originally scheduled to be kick off at 4pm, but the organisers pushed the timings by an hour in order to hold the match under lights. Interestingly, the organisers postponed the MMC-RCT quarter-final match due to bad light after they failed to switch on the floodlights for the last 15 minutes on June 18. The match — 2-2 in the normal 90-minute time remained goalless in the added 15 minutes — was postponed and was played for full 90-minute the next day. — HNS