NRT confirm AFC berth, thanks to NPC


KATHMANDU, APR 01 - A goal each from Sayam Mosavi and Ranjit Shrestha in the dying minutes earned New Road Team (NRT) a 2-2 draw against NIB Friends Cub, while Nepal Police Club played out a 1-1 draw against another departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club in the last round of the San Miguel ‘A’ Division League at the Dashrath Stadium on Thursday.

NRT, on 23 points, a point ahead of second placed Nepal Police Club before today’s fixtures, needed to maintain their pole position to qualify for the AFC President’s Cup qualifiers scheduled for Dhaka. NRT managed to scrape through after their nearest rivals shared a point from their fixture against TAC. NRT completed the first leg at the top of the table with 24 points, while second placed NPC trail them on 23 points. The positions of TAC (sixth) and Friends (fourth) remained unchanged.

Ranjit Shrestha had brought the game back into level terms deep into injury time after Sayam Mosavi had reduced the deficit from a header. Buddha Chemjong and Pukar Ghatraj were on the mark for the Kupandole-based club. NRT were unlucky to see two goals from Jiwan Sinkeman flagged offside.

NRT came to the match as the frontrunners to qualify for Dhaka but they failed to live up to their billing and crumbled under the pressure of a spirited Friends squad. NRT were so poor that they failed to score from the easiest of chances, the most notable one on 20th minute when in-form Sayam Mosavi’s tame effort with the just the keeper to beat was cleared off the goal line from Dipak Gurung.

Friends, on the other hand, had nothing to lose and kept their play calm and easy, completely dominating the second half. Buddha Chemjong missed a sitter in the opening minutes of the second half before substitute Kushal Shrestha fell over the ball in a one-on-one attempt against the run of play.

Chemjong made up for his loss giving Friends the lead on 72nd minute when he sank his long ranger into the top right corner, and Pukar Ghatraj made it to 2-0 heading home an unchallenged pass from Azad Pradhan three minutes later. Sayam Mosavi, whose movement inside the D-box was made difficult till then, broke free from his marker for once to pull one back from NRT on 86th minute through a glancing header and Ranjit Shrestha headed home from close range off Jiwan Sinkeman’s cross.

Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra blamed the referee for poor time keeping, arguing that NRT had scored the second goal 30 minutes after the match was over. His counterpart Diken Suwal, who was hoping the result of the next match to go in favour of NRT, said the team failed to utilise many of their chances as the team had come under tremendous pressure.

In the first match of the day, Ju Manu salvaged a draw for NPC to maintain the team’s unbeaten run after Amrit Basnet had scored for Army.

Ju Manu equalised on 58th minute through a curling shot from outside the penalty box. Amrit Basnet had given Army 55th minute lead.

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