Source: Himalayan News Service
Picture Courtesy: Himalayan News Service
KATHMANDU: Goalkeeper Samit Rajbhandari made two saves as Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club edged out Nabil Three Star Club 4-2 in tiebreaker of the San Miguel Knockout Football Tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium
The departmental team came back from behind twice in the quarter-final match to force 30 minutes of extra time. The match headed for the penalty shootout after both the teams failed to break the 2-2 deadlock. Ganesh Lawati, Kumar Thapa, Amir Shrestha and Nirajan Malla converted the spot kicks while Krishna Lama hit the cross bar for APF. Only Buddha Chemjong and Bikram Lama scored for Three Star as APF custodian Samit guessed perfectly to deny Bijay Dhimal and Yogesh Gurung in the tie-breaker.
Earlier, Three Star missed out on taking an early 13th minute lead when Ranjit Shrestha skied the spot kick. They were awarded the penalty after APF defender Sudeep Shrestha tripped Raj Kumar Ghising in the danger zone. The Lalitpur-based outfit deservedly went ahead in the 27th minute thanks largely to the tricky skills of Buddha Chemjong.
Buddha received a long pass just at the edge of the box and, despite being checked by two APF defenders, the striker controlled the ball, swiftly turned around and fired into the roof of the net.
APF took only three minutes after the break to score the equaliser. Jivan Sinkeman had an easy tap in for the goal following an Amir Shrestha’s right wing accurate shot at the far post. Three Star goalkeeper Sanjeev Shrestha did well to palm the ball but it rebounded of the bar and fell nicely to Jivan to slot home.
Eight minutes later Three Star striker Raj Kumar Ghising squandered a certain goal. Anil Ojha set up a nice back pass but Raj Kumar shot straight to APF custodian Samit. Nirajan also wasted a chance for the departmental team in the 61st minute as he shot off target following a pass from Ganesh Lawati.
Three Star took the lead again in the 63rd minute when Raj Kumar floated in a perfect cross for Buddha to make an easy tap in for his second goal. The game was far from over as APF levelled the scores yet again, this time through a penalty kick. Referee Bikash Mahat did not hesitate to point to the spot when goalkeeper Sanjeev brought down Nirajan inside the area. Ganesh stepped in to convert the equaliser.
Raju Rai had an opportunity to seal the match for Three star in second half injury time only for the APF shot-stopper to make a brilliant save. Both the teams had their chances in the extra time but poor finishing let them down. APF custodian Samit palmed away a Buddha strike to safety early in the first minute of extra time. Seven minutes into the extra time, Nirajan had the easiest chances of them all as he evaded two APF defenders, but with just goalkeeper Sanjeev to beat, he chipped the ball a bit higher and hit the woodwork.
Three Star coach Megh Raj KC said they played really well for the first 70 minutes but missing numerous chances early on cost them the match. “Overall we performed well,” said KC adding that the late arrival of their goalkeeper (Sanjeev) in Kathmandu also made the difference. “He only arrived here from India today. So he was not in his usual form,” added KC.
APF will play either Himalayan Sherpa Club or Tribhuvan Army Club in the semi-finals.
Himalayan Sherpa vs Tribhuvan Army @1:30PM