KATHMANDU, Sept 27: An extra time goal from Dinesh Karki helped new boys Himalayan Sherpa Club (HSC) upset Nepal Army Club with a 1-0 victory at the Dasharath Stadium on Monday and book a semifinal berth in the San Miguel Knockout Football Tournament.
Karki, a replacement for Nabin Neupane, scored seven minutes before the end of added time, 11 minutes after his entry in the ground, following a defensive error by Army defender Tek Bahadur Budhathoki who failed to clear a long cross of Amar Pun in the box. The regulation time had ended in a goalless stalemate.
HSC will now take on APF in the second semifinal on Wednesday. The first semifinal will be played between Nepal Police Club and New Road Team on Tuesday.
In a drab affair, Army, without their regular custodian and skipper Bikash Malla, dominated the match in terms of ball possession but failed to put up a well coordinated show and suffered from poor finishing as usual. They made a few post attempts, but all were in vain.
Army nearly took the lead in the 23rd minute when Neupane of HSC cleared a ball headed by Ram Kumar Biswas from the goalline. Biswas was later rushed to hospital following an injury to his head in the second half.
Similarly, Army striker Bikarna Shrestha squandered goal scoring chances twice in the second half in one-on-one position with glovesman Rupak Shrestha. Army were denied the equalizer four minutes from time when goalie Shrestha quickly punched an on-target header by Hiranya Magar in a corner of Raju Tamang.
HSC could not make any remarkable attempts on goal in the first half, but came up with an improved performance in the second half. Deepak Rai hit wide from the box in the 53rd minute.
In the 63rd minute, second choice Army goalie Ganga Ram Deuja made an attractive long stretch dive to deny Jagjeet Shrestha´s freekick. Deuja again made a brilliant save in the 84th minute to deny Suni Subedi´s close range strike.
Delighted with his team´s victory, HSC coach Upendraman Singh who has solely taken the charge of a first division club for the first time, said that the team succeeded in its strategy. "Our strategy was to hold and control the ball possession and make the physically strong Army run more and more, and we largely succeeded in it," Singh said.
He, however, lamented the weak finishing of his team. "We were lucky to score, and luck comes in football after hard work," Singh said, adding that his side consists of future stars of Nepali football.
Singh´s counterpart Dambar Gurung who has made a comeback in Nepali football, lamented that his side failed to utilize scoring opportunities on many occasions. Gurung made his entry in Nepali football as the coach of the U-16 national squad but was forced to quit following the team´s painful defeat in the AFC U-16 tournament in October 2009.
"We also got very little time for preparation and striker Bikarna is yet to recover fully from injuries," Gurung said.