Picture courtesy: Republica
KATHMANDU, Sept 28: New Road Team (NRT) on Tuesday advanced into the final of the San Miguel Knockout Football Tournament dealing a huge blow to the league champions Nepal Police Club with a 3-2 tiebreaker victory at the Dasharath Stadium.
Police star player and national midfielder Parbat Pandey missed the first spot kick while striker Bhola Silwal and custodian Ritesh Thapa also failed to convert the fourth and last spotkicks for the departmental team.
Only Yogesh Shrestha and Suman Subedi succeeded for Police in the shootout to decide the winner following a goalless stalemate in the regulation and added time.
NRT goalie Binaya Shrestha, who has signed with the club for this season following the relegation of his team Boys Union last season, starred in his team´s victory as he saved two spotkicks of Pandey and Silwal, while goalie Thapa shot inches wide from the pole.
Bishnu KC converted the first spotkick for NRT before Pandey of Police failed to score. However, Subash Gurung of NRT was denied by goalie Thapa and skipper Roshan Lamichhane hit the pole. But Sushil KC converted his penalty and Raghu Prajapati scored the decisive one.
Police had a one-man advantage over NRT for 44 minutes after Jeeten Karki was sent off in the 76th minute for a second yellow card.
NRT will take on the winners of the second semifinal match to be held on Wednesday between Armed Police Force and Himalayan Sherpa Club in the final.
This is the first time that NRT have made it through to the final of a knockout football tournament after lifting the Budha Subba Gold Cup in Dharan in 2064 BS. The same year, they had also won the Governor´s Gold Cup in Sikkim and made it to the final of the Martyrs Memorial Football in Hetauda.
This is the first defeat for Police in the last 23 matches played at the Dasharath Stadium. Police were undefeated in all 22 matches of the first division played at the Dasharath Stadium.
Police took the match under control from the beginning and created consistent pressure throughout the match, but were unable to open the scoring. On many occasions, Police´s attacks ended at the hands of goalie Shrestha.
NRT coach Rajukaji Shakya said that his side won due to bad luck of the opponents and hard work of his players. "I had not thought that we would win this match," Shakya said.
In the ninth minute, Pandey´s 20-yard shot for Police was denied by goalie Shrestha and Dipendra Shrestha squandered scoring opportunities twice in the regulation time.
In the added time, Shrestha missed more than two clear chances of scoring. In the 11th minute, NRT goalie Shrestha easily took Shrestha´s feeble shot and a minute later, he made a brilliant dive to deny Shrestha´s powerful strike from the box.
The first post attempt from NRT came during the stoppage time of the first half. Police defender Jitendra Singh Bista headed to clear NRT´s attempt from the goalline when the ball bounced and passed over goalie Thapa. Roshan Lamichhane´s strike from the box in Sushil KC´s pass was saved by Police goalie Thapa.
Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha cited his players´ lack of hold on the ball and fast-paced game as the reasons for defeat. "We got many chances but failed to utilize them properly, and experienced players also missed the penalty," Shrestha said.