POKHARA, Feb 6: Disappointing Nepal Army Club (NAC) for second consecutive time in the final showdown, Nepal Police Club (NPC) lifted the trophy of the 8th Aaha Gold Cup Football Tournament at the Pokhara Stadium on Saturday.
NPC made it to the full ownership of the trophy owing to their hat-trick victory, thanks to the lone goal by Yogesh Shrestha in the 27th minute of added time as the regulation time ended in a goalless draw.
NPC seemingly managed to withstand the speedy army-men only for the team´s reinforcement with five key players, including Yogesh, who arrived late on Friday night.
To avail NPC of manifold achievements, NAC failed to capitalize a slew of chances throughout the match, once again indicating that the side literally lacked nerves to play under pressure.
They could well have netted in the 4th minute of added time had it not gone wide to disappoint Santhosh Nepali making a close range shot. NAC regretted when Bikarna could not charge in perfect angle from a few yards´ distance in the 13th minute in the added time.
The match would not have gone beyond regular time if Hari Mahato and Santosh Nepali had finished golden chances in the 34th and 35th minutes respectively.
Besides their covetous win, NPC also celebrated their inspirational coach Birat Krishna Shrestha´s fifth major title in three years and hailed veteran Rakesh Shrestha for the first title under his captainship.
In front of a crowd of some 20 thousand football buffs, the final between two departmental teams relatively remained a drab affair as both sides failed to play an offensive game.
Jumanu Rai, the national front-liner, was not marked anywhere after losing a one-versus-one chance in the 5th minute, and was replaced by Pankaj Shahi in the 57th minute.
NAC put up a better performance against last year´s colossal 5-0 loss. NAC coach Rajukaji Shakya said that his players did not utilize chances despite playing nicely. “Our players wore out in the front line,” he added.
NPC coach Birat Shrestha said his side won simply because the army played much of a friendly football with ball possession only. “Results count in competitive football, and we did it,” he added.
Birat, however, did not praise his side for performance at all. “They could not feel the pitch, which was rolling the ball faster,” he said.
With the win NPC bagged a purse of Rs 150,000 while the runners up received half of the amount.
The best player of the tournament was awarded with Yamaha Alba motorbike while goalkeeper, defense, midfield, forward, coach were awarded Rs 10,000 each. The highest scorer bagged Rs 15,000.
Best player: Ritesh Thapa (NPC)
Best goalkeeper: Ritesh Thapa (NPC)
Best defense: Deepak Bhusal (MMC)
Best midfield: Yogesh Shrestha (NPC)
Best forward: Bikarna Shretha (NAC)
Best coach: Rajukaji Shakya (NAC)
Highest scorer: Bikarna Shrestha (NAC- 4 goals)
List of Aaha Gold Cup winners
1st (2003) - NPC 1-0 Friends
2nd (2004) - MMC 3-1 NPC
3rd (2005) - MMC 3-2 NPC
4th (2006) - African Utd 2-0 NPC
5th (2007) - Three Star 1-1 (5-4 tie-breaker) MMC
6th (2008) - NPC 2-0 APF
7th (2009) - NPC 5-0 NAC
8th (2010) - NPC 1-0 NAC