TSC close in on National League title

Lalitpur, October 13

Ruslan Three Star club (TAC) reclaimed the lead with a 3-1 victory over Nepal APF Club in the Red Bull National League here at the ANFA Complex ground today.

With the win in the penultimate round, Three Star accumulated 32 points from 15 matches and are two points ahead of Tribhuvan Army Club. Third-placed Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club, who have 28 points from 14 matches, have a chance to cut the lead down to one point with a win over Nepal Police Club. In that case, the last match of the league between MMC and Three Star will decide the winners.

Olawale Afeez scored a brace, while Bijay Gurung netted one for TSC, while APF skipper Ganesh Lawati scored the consolation goal. Afeez provided an early lead to Three Star in the fifth minute when he exchanged short passes with Bikram Lama before firing home from the edge of the box. APF goalkeeper Bikram Gurung got his hands on the ball but the shot was too powerful for him to stop.

Afeez was again at the target as TSC doubled the tally in the 24th minute in counter attack. Against the run of the play, Afeez collected a long pass from Nirajan Malla from the center of the pitch and fired a low shot past APF custodian Gurung from the penalty box.

After the break, APF came back into the game through a goal from skipper Lawati in the 50th minute. Lawati scored in the counter attack as his shot from the six-yard box beat TSC goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong. As APF were pressing hard for the equaliser, Three Star restored the lead in the 67th minute when Bijay Gurung beat APF goalkeeper Bikram Gurung with a gentle head touch following a pass from skipper Sagar Thapa before the midfielder scored in an open post.

Earlier, APF striker Santosh Shrestha missed a chance to level the match in the 10th minute when his shot from six yards went wide. Sudip Sikrakar rescued APF twice, clearing the attempts from Nirajan Khadka in the 13th and Victor Amobi’s header in the 76th.

APF came close to scoring but Three Star goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong denied Nabin Lama in the 58th minute and skipper Sagar Thapa was quick enough to clear his second attempt. Afeez had a chance to score a hat-trick in counter attack but he struck against the post in the in the 81st minute.

Three Star coach Rajendra Tamang praised his players’ efforts. “We had to win the match and at the same time play it safe as four of our players were booked in the previous matches,” said Tamang. “APF gave us hard time in the beginning but timely goals helped us win the match and walk away with three crucial points,” he said. “We will go for a win in the final match of the league even though a draw is enough for us to lift the trophy,” he added.

APF coach Krishna Thapa said he was happy with the overall performance of the boys. “We created number of chances but our strikers failed to convert them. And the opponents did not miss on their part,” he said. “I fielded the players from the department in today’s match and found that the ones with contract lack fighting spirit,” Thapa said. “I have suggested the management to take in the contracted players in the department for better performance in future,” Thapa added.