POKHARA, Jan 18: Khum Gurung inspired hosts Sahara Club, Pokhara, to a 2-1 win over Dharan Football Club in the Ninth Aaha Gold Cup Football Tournament that kicked off Tuesday at Pokhara.
Gurung set the pass for the first goals before interval and doubled the advantage after the interval to steer the hosts to the quarterfinal
Sahara will now take on the Denzong Boys FC of Sikkim, India, who got direct entry into quarterfinal on Saturday for a semifinal place.
Ezee Collins easily sent the ball past net in the 17th minute to put the host ahead when he met Gurung´s pass. Gurung doubled the advantage in the 58th minute through a brilliant freekick. The visitor cut the deficit in the 74th minute through Prakash Budhatoki who cleverly hit the ball in an open net seeing an advancing custodian of the host.
In the competitive match, Sahara missed a scoring opportunity in the second half when Rajan Adhikari´s shot hit the woodwork. In the same half, Sahara goalie denied Suwarna Limbu´s strike with difficulty.
Despite the team´s victory, hosts coach Kiran Shrestha remained dissatisfied with his sides´ performance. He said that the players could not perform as expected. "We knew Dharan was not a weak team and we had to work hard as the team consists of many players who have already been associated with the first division clubs." Shrestha also said that his side conceded due to wrong judgment of his player.
Shrestha´s counterpart Milan Shrestha lauded his teams´ performance despite the defeat. "Had the boys played in same tune as that of second half from the beginning the result could have been different."
He also said that the early exit of his team from the very first round in all seven editions they participated was a misfortune. "We have won other matches played in Pokhara but in Aaha every time we have exited from the first round," Shrestha said.
Meanwhile, hosts Sahara felicitated Kaski Football Association President Khem Bahadur Gurung for his contribution in the development of football in Kaski.
On Saturday, Himalayan Sherpa Club will take on ANFA U-19. Earlier, Ganesh Thapa, the president of All Nepal Football Association and vice president of Asian Football Confederation inaugurated the tournament.
The Tuesday´s match between the hosts Sahara Club and Dharan Football Club was the 100th match of the Aaha Gold Cup Football Tournament. The 2-1 victory to the hosts in 100th match made it more memorable.
The Aaha Gold known in the first edition by Caravan Gold back in 2002 has been organized each year since. Altogether, 11 matches each are held in both Caravan and Aaha and in each editions of the event until eighth.
In all, 290 goals have been scored so far and Nepal Police Club has scored the highest 51 goals. Police have won 22 among 25 matches and lifted the title for the record five times. They have made it to the final for eight times.
However, Sahara has never made it to the final.