Winning start for Machhindra, NRT

KATHMANDU: Machhindra Football Club and New Road Team (NRT) started their Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League campaign with wins here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

Machhindra defeated NIB Friends Club 3-1 on goals from Bishnu KC, Rupesh KC and Karna Limbu. Deepak Bhushal replied for Friends. Star studded NRT, meanwhile, laboured to a 1-0 victory over Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club with a solitary goal from Nirajan Rayamajhi in the 37th minute.

Machhindra were in an attacking mood early on as Karna Limbu missed out on a close range opportunity following a cross from Amir Shrestha in the 13th minute. Three minutes later Bishnu provided the lead for Machhindra, promptly responding from the goalline on a supply from Amir Shrestha.

Friends then levelled the scores through Deepak in the 62nd minute with his powerful strike from 30 yards to leave Machhindra goalie Bishal Magar literally stunned. Machhindra, however, were in no mood to settle down and kept on searching for more goals.

Rupesh put Machhindra ahead again in the 75th minute through a penalty after Friends skipper Nur Raj Kafle brought down man-of-the-match Karna Limbu inside the area. Karna ensured his team walk away with three clear points by heading home a cross from Rupesh in the 80th minute. Machhindra coach Narottam Shakya hailed his team's victory saying his side played a very good game.

"We had a very good defence line up and the remaining works were done by the strikers," Shakya said. Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra said five of his players, who participated in the recently held first National Games, were unfit for the match. Mishra also rued the missed opportunities.

Earlier, NRT struggled to find their rhythm and had to wait until the 37th minute to find the back of the nets. Nirajan struck the winner capitalising on a back pass from Ranjit Shrestha. The departmental team failed to make impression in the game, their only real chance being a strike from Kumar Thapa in the 40th minute. NRT goalie Surendra Shrestha acrobatically denied Thapa's 25-yard shot.

APF coach Maheshwor Mulmi said his side lacked good strikers. "We are sort of quality players who can utilse the opportunities," Mulmi said. NRT coach Diken Suwal expressed dissatisfaction over his team's performance despite the victory. "Our players lacked coordination. It looked like the team has not set well," added Suwal.