Amir Shrestha gave a first half lead to Machhindra but Santosh Sahukhala canceled the lead eight minutes before the end to earn a point each. Likewise, Amar Pun and debutant Korean striker Oh Suchg Hanw scored a brace each in MMC´s comfortable victory over APF. Second-half substitute Jibesh Pandey scored a consolation goal for APF.
With the win, MMC climbed to the top of the table with nine points, winning all three matches played and coming ahead of New Road Team, who have also accumulated nine points from as many matches, on the basis of goals scored. APF in the relegation zone are yet to open their account in the points table.
Low-rated Machhindra with one win and two draws are in fifth position with five points, while Three Star, taken as title contenders, have accumulated four points with a win, a loss and a draw to come in the seventh spot.
In the competitive match, Machhindra studded with youth players dominated the initial stage and took a lead in the 39th minute through midfielder Shrestha. Shrestha made a looping header from the box to stun helpless Three Star goalie Kiran Chemjong in a cross supplied by Naresh Pokharel.
Three Star found their rhythm in the second half and made some impressive attempts during the latter part of the match. They had to wait until the 82nd minute to level the match.
Sahukhala made a free header in a pass from Ripesh Agrawal, the second-half replacement for Rajendra Tamang, taking advantage of a misunderstanding by a Machhindra defender.
Setting an offside trap, Machhindra´s defending lineup had left Sahukhala unmarked but Om Prakash Dhungana who made his entry in the 74th minute for Machhindra failed to understand the team´s strategy and remained where he was, paving the way for Sahukhala to score the equalizer.
Newly appointed Machhindra coach Dhruba KC, who took charge of the team from Tuesday, was full of praise for the team. “The boys played well according to team strategy. To play a draw with a big name like Three Star is an achievement,” KC said.
Three Star coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said that there was lack of center midfield and strikers in the team.
In another match, MMC which came up with three Korean players in the starting lineup dominated the entire match against APF. Keeping up the pressure from the beginning, Amar Pun headed home twice in the 36th and 51st minutes respectively. Prabin Saiju set the pass on the first occasion and Shiva Shrestha made a beautiful cross for the second goal.
Likewise, Hanw added a double for MMC. Unmarked Hanw scored an easy goal in the 70th minute sprinting with the ball from the center in a pass supplied by Korean teammate Li Jihoon. He scored another 10 minutes later snatching the ball from APF goalie Chandan Sardar in the box while he was given a backpass by defender Sudip Shrestha. Instead of clearing the ball, Sardar unsuccessfully attempted to beat Hanw.
Pun and Hanw registered their names in the highest goal scorers list with two goals along with Bikarna Shrestha of army, Chetan Ghimire of police and Sayan Mosavi of APF.
MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang said that his team played well and there was more room for improvement in the team.
APF coach Maheshwar Mulmi said the team lacked scoring power and failed to utilize opportunities.
Disputes in Three Star
Nabil Three Star coach Bal Gopal Maharjan has said that there were internal disputes between the club´s players and management.
Maharjan hinted that misunderstanding between the coach, players and management hampered the team´s performance in the league. He, however, did not elaborate.
According to sources close to Three Star, some players do not attend the training camp on time and show disrespect to the coach while some of them are frustrated with the team´s management.
However, Three Star President Lalit Krishna Shrestha denied it. “There is no dispute between the management and the players. We have negotiated with the players before the league,” Shrestha claimed.
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Venue: Dasharath Stadium