PLA lose first match, MMC win


KATHMANDU, Dec 31: The PLA Sports Club of the Maoist combatants suffered a 2-0 loss in their first match against Machhindra Club on Thursday while Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) had a 1-0 win over ANFA U-16 in the ongoing British Gurkha Cup Football Tournament being held at the Dasharath Stadium.

The match between PLA and Machhindra featured the fastest goal in the tournament as Machhindra opened the scoring just in the 14th second. Mani Pandit netted the goal in third touch after the starting whistle. After giving the starting pass to Karna Limbu, Mani struck to score in the third touch.

Later, Pukar Ale doubled the advantage in the 66th minute. Pukar made a powerful shot from about 35 yards to pile more pressure on the PLA team limited to 10 men in the 70th minute following the second yellow card to Sujan Lama for a bookable offense. He was shown the first yellow card two minutes earlier for confrontation with referee Sudish Pandey. Altogether six yellow cards were shown in the match including five for the PLA team and one for Machhindra Club.

The match seemed balanced between PLA and Machhindra, which had fielded seven players of the ANFA Academy in the team. But PLA which had fielded only three players other than PLA combatants, failed to direct the ball toward the post on many occasions after taking it to the box as Machhindra´s defending remained resolute.

Pankaj Lama´s powerful free kick from about 30 yards was brilliantly punched by Machhindra custodian Bishal Magar in the 12th minute. Machhindra made about half a dozen attractive attempts in the match. Rupesh KC´s header in the 58th minute rolled on the bar and went out after it was punched by PLA custodian Bikram Gurung. Similarly, the PLA custodian made another brilliant save from the cross bar off Pukar´s strike.

Machhindra coach Narottam Shakya said that the players failed to perform up to his expectation despite the win. “There was lack of set practice as we got only one week´s time for that,” Narottam said.

PLA coach Meghraj KC said that the inexperience of the players had been the main problem for the team. “We have got junior players and most of them were playing in the stadium for the first time. They could display only 10 per cent of their ability.”

In another match, a late goal from Shiva Shrestha in the 78th minute helped MMC beat ANFA U-16 1-0.

Shiva made a spectacular header from the box in a free kick of Jagjeet Shrestha. MMC, which had fielded 10 new faces in the first division level match for the first time, made many post attempts against the ANFA youngsters. The starting lineup of the team consists of five U-19 ANFA academy players.

The U-16 team could make only few attempts but all in vain. The U-16 team was unlucky during the last moment of the match as Hem Bahadur Tamang´s powerful strike from long distance in the 83rd minute rebounded hitting the bar and skipper Sulav Maskey´s second attempt for the ball went wide.

MMC coach Tshering Lopsang said that he has taken this tournament as the preparation for the upcoming ´A´ division league. “This tournament is a test for our team which is not properly set and we have 17 new players among 20 players in the list. I want to see what weakness our players have so that we can keep up the prestige of the team in the league,” said Tshering.

U-16 coach Sunil Shrestha said that he was satisfied with the team´s performance and the team was unlucky to concede the late goal.

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