Source: Himalayan News Service
Picture courtesy: Himalayan News Service
KATHMANDU: Himalayan Sherpa Club (HSC) struggled to a 2-1 win over Friends Club and entered the quarter-finals of the San Miguel Knockout Football Tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium today.
Midfielder Pukar Gahatraj converted a spot kick against his former club to help HSC — who are playing the top tier tournament for the first time since the club’s establishment in 2005 — into the last eight.
HSC will next take on Tribhuvan Army Club, who were drawn directly to quarter-finals, on September 27.
Himalayan Sherpa started their first ‘A’ Division tournament with three former Friends Club players in goalkeeper Rupak Shrestha, midfielder Pukar Gahatraj and defender Deepak Gurung. HSC, who have spent a hefty amount in signing star players from various clubs, squandered quite a few scoring chances in the first half.
Deepak Rai failed to score twice in the 28th and 34th minute, while Gahatraj also wasted another opportunity in the 42nd minute for HSC. After playing a goalless draw in the first period, HSC took a 47th minute lead through Sunil Subedi, the former Sankata Kathmandu Mall Club forward. Subedi slotted home from close following a cross from Deepak Rai.
Friends levelled the scores in the 63rd minute through Kushal Shrestha, who capitalised on a defensive error to bring Friends back into the game. But Gahatraj regained the lead when he converted the spot kick which was awarded after Friends skipper Ukesh Shrestha brought down Sunil Subedi inside the danger zone.
Friends, who fielded six teenaged players from their own academy project, upped their tempo in the second half but still could not find the back of the net. Substitute Sailesh Bista headed inches wide of the post in the 74th minute. Deepak Rai of HSC was unable to capitalise on a chance in a situation where Friends custodian Prasod Joshi was down on the ground in the 82nd minute.
Himalayan Sherpa coach Upendra Man Singh said he spent the last 16 days setting up his team and the result was great. The former national team captain Singh, however, said that his team was not fully set. “The lack of coordination in today’s match was the proof of that,” added Singh. Singh credited the win to the sound management of the club and the players’ dedication.
Friends’ coach Mrigendra Mishra expressed satisfaction over his team’s show. “HSC are a strong team, comprising a number of experienced players and still we managed to play a competitive match,” said Mishra, who singled out the conceding of the spot kick as the turning point of the match.
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