In another match, ANFA U-16 came from behind to play a 2-2 draw against the Maoist combatants´ PLA Sports Club. With the draw, U-16´s goal drought ended in their seventh match following the AFC U-16 Group ´B´ qualifiers held from October 5-15 in the capital. On Sunday, the ANFA team had scored a goal against Machhindra after defender Rohit Chand headed the ball into his own post.
Both MMC and Machhindra have collected seven points apiece in the points table after the completion of the group round. Both have +3 goals in their kitty. However, MMC have topped the group as they have scored five goals while Machhindra have scored four. Likewise, already crashed out PLA and ANFA U-16 opened their accounts with one point apiece. PLA secured third place in the group as they have scored four goals as compared to U-16´s three goals.
Machhindra dominated the match against MMC from the beginning but were unable to find the back of net as custodian Bishal Shrestha and a stubborn defense line-up remained obstacles for them.
Both the teams came up with some post attempts but failed to score. Machhindra made as many as half a dozen impressive post attempts while MMC made about three good moves.
Bishnu KC´s strike for Machhindra in the 25th minute went directly into goalie Bishal´s hands. Likewise, Bishal blocked Rohit Chand´s free kick in the 59th minute and Karna Limbu´s strike on the rebounder skied above the bar. Machhindra were unlucky in the 76th minute as Naresh Pokhrel failed to direct the ball toward the post from short range in a cross of Pukar Ale.
MMC´s Prabin Saiju´s powerful volley was denied by glovesman Bishal Magar as he punched the ball with difficulty in the 31st minute. MMC made about three other spectacular attempts.
MMC coach Tshering Lopsang said that he utilized the match for testing players. “The match was not so important for us, so we utilized it to check the players,” Tshering said.
Machhindra coach Narottam Shakya satisfied with the team´s performance said that the team failed to utilize scoring opportunities.
In another match, Phurba Yonzan and Santosh Thapa scored one each as U-16 came from behind to level the match 2-2 against the physically strong PLA. Phurba scored in the injury time of the first half and Santosh in the 52nd minute.
Earlier, PLA took the lead in the fourth minute through Saroj Basnet and Balaram Balampakhi doubled the advantage in the 22nd minute.
Saroj scored from outside the box with a powerful strike. Likewise, Balaram made a spectacular shot from about 35 yards. For U-16, Phurba scored from close range banking on Ambar Dangol´s pass and the second goal came from Santosh during a scuffle inside the box.
PLA coach Meghraj KC said that the tournament was a good experience for the team. “I got a chance to examine the weakness of the team; next time we will come up with improved performance,” Meghraj said, adding, “Slow paced game is the major problem of the team.”
U-16 coach Sunil Shrestha said that the team played better than in their previous matches. However, he lamented the lack of a good striker in the team.
ANFA regulations ´albatross round the neck´
MMC coach Tshering Lopsang lamented that the prestigious MMC Club failed to include star players in the team owing to ANFA regulations. As per the ANFA regulations, players are only permitted to play from the club in which they have been registered three years ago.
The first division league halted since the last three years will resume from February 12. The transfer window in domestic football will begin in July-August.
MMC are the four-time ´A´ division league winners. The team has come up with 17 new faces. Skipper Tashi Tshering, Sanjay Gurung and Sachin Shrestha are the only old players. Of the new players, 10 are playing in the ´A´ division level football tournament for the first time. Seven players of the team are ANFA academy products.