KATHMANDU, Dec 20: A lone goal from Jumanu Rai during extra time gave Nepal Police a 1-0 victory over arch rivals Armed Police Force on Monday. With the win, Police also secured a berth in the semifinals of the British Gurkha Cup Football Tournament currently underway at the Dasharath Stadium.
Rai scored in the sixth minute of the added half hour after the regulation time ended in a goalless stalemate. Rai scored through a powerful strike from the box, taking advantage of APF last defender Sudip Shrestha´s mistake when he failed to clear the ball inside the box.
Police will now take on Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) in the first semifinal of the tournament to be held on Wednesday.
"Every time we lose, it is due to our own mistakes," APF Manager Prem Kumar Shrestha said, adding, "Our players are making mistakes in one or the other position, and today defender Shrestha´s mistake cost us dearly."
In course of beating their departmental rivals, Police also avenged the defeat they had suffered in the final of the KBRU Football Tournament held about a month ago at Birat Chowk, Morang. On that occasion, Police were defeated 1-0.
In a dull affair on Monday, both the teams failed to heat up the audience on a wintry afternoon in the capital. Police dominated the second half of the match in terms of ball possession, whereas the first half was more or less balanced.
The first attempt on goal for Police came in the seventh minute through Yogesh Shrestha but it was not effective. Shrestha´s feeble one-touch strike from the box went straight to the hands of APF goalie Samit Rajbhandari. In the 34th minute, Dipendra Paudel of Police was denied a goal when his shot was defended by Krishna Lama while goalie Rajbhandari had fallen down following a collision with Paudel. Eight minutes into extra time, Bhola Silwal´s quickfire shot from a tight angle was brilliantly blocked by goalie Rajbhandari.
APF twice made attempts on goal during the first half, but all in vain. Nirajan Malla´s powerful strike went inches above the crossbar and skipper Ganesh Lawati´s powerful freekick two minutes later was punched to safety by custodian Ritesh Thapa. Lawati again hit above the bar from close range in the 72nd minute and Dipak Khadka´s attractive shot was taken easily by Thapa in the 85th minute.
Police coach Hari Khadka said that the match was a matter of pride for both the departmental teams and termed the hard-fought victory as an achievement. He conceded that there were weaknesses in the finishing line-up. "We don´t have a strong finishing line-up and it will be amended after Chetan Ghimire recovers from his injury," Khadka said.