TSC pip Bouddha FC; APF hold Sankata

Kathmandu, August 31:

Sankata Club and Gyanendra Armed Police Force Officers’ Club played a 1-1 draw, while Nabil Three Star Club registered their first win at the Martyrs’ Memorial San Miguel ‘A’ Division League Football Tournament here at Dasharath Stadium today. After the first round, APF lead the standings with four points, while Three Star, New Road Team (NRT), Manang Marsyangdi Club, Boys’ Union club and Tribhuvan Army Club have three points each. Sankata Club, Jawalakhel Youth Club and Mahendra Police Club have one point apiece.

Defending champions Nabil Three Star Club, who suffered a shocking 2-1 defeat by the new entrants APF in the inaugural match, defeated Bouddha Football Club 1-0, on the first-half goal from Surendra Tamang. Surendra got the goal in the 22nd minute when he headed home from close range on Bijay Gurung’s accurate cross from the left flank. Three Star should have won the match easily, but Santosh Shahukhala squandered as many as three good scoring opportunities.

Surendra almost scored in the sixth minute, but his free kick from tight angle was cleared by Bouddha defender Bijay Gautam. Surendra was unlucky in the 36th minute when Bouddha goalkeeper Dasharath Adhikari saved his header on Vishan Gauchan’s pass. Bouddha players, who held last year’s runner-up Mahendra Police Club to a goalless draw in the first-round match, failed to perform to that level in front of star-studded Three Star.

The match took more pace in the second half, with Bouddha putting some pressure on the Lalitpur club, but failed to threaten Three Star custodian Upendra Man Singh. In the 56th minute, Shahukhala had a fair chance to guide the ball inside the post, but Bouddha goalkeeper Adhikari denied with a fine save.

Referee Sri Ram Ranjitkar cautioned five players — Rajesh Shahi, Santosh Shahukhala, Pralay Rajbhandari and Janak Singh of Three Star and Anil Gurung of Bouddha — during the match.

Nabil Three Star skipper Upendra Man Singh was straightforward at the post-match conference blaming the club management for the team’s lack lustre performance in the first two matches. “When all other clubs were training hard for the league, our club was sleeping,” he said. “We won the league last year, and it seemed we had not come out of that hang,” he added.

Bouddha coach Arjun Lama said that the team’s midfield was still weak. “There are still some lapses in the midfield, which we can say because of inexperience,” said Lama. Earlier, Sankata Club was held to a 1-1 draw by APF. After a tedious goalless first half, Nilendra Dewan put Sankata ahead in the 63rd minute. Fed by Raj Kumar Ghising at the edge of the area, Dewan fired the ball into the net with a left-footed shot that beat APF goalkeeper Samit Rajbhandari.

Mani Kumar Pandit levelled the score in the 79th minute on a rebound after Sankata goalkeeper Sangeet Rajak failed to gather Basanta Basnet’s attempt from the right flank. At the end of the day, APF coach Nawal Rana was not satisfied with the team’s performance. “My boys lack team understanding, and failed to capitalise on the chances,” he said.

APF skipper Jibesh Pandey, who was sidelined for most part of the last season with a knee injury, said that his performance in the match was not satisfactory. “There is communication gap between us, and the opponents also played well,” he said. Jibesh played for Sankata last season. Sankata coach Puspa Pradhan and skipper Kailash Dangol did not attend the post-match conference.