SOURCE: THE HIMALAYAN TIMES
RUP NARAYAN DHAKAL
POKHARA: The ninth Aaha Gold Cup Football Tournament kicks off with hosts Sahara Club playing against Dharan Football Club in the inaugural match here at the Pokhara Stadium on Tuesday.
The match between Sahara and Dharan will be the 100th match of Aaha Gold Cup, a prestigious tournament held outside the Kathmandu Valley. It would also be the first encounter between these two teams in the tournament. The hosts have made it to the semi-finals twice, while Dharan have failed to yet to make their mark in their all five appearances so far in the tournament.
Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha said they were expecting a good performance from his team this time. “We have a balanced side and we have included two non-Nepali in African Ovey and Ejee Collins,” said the coach. However, he added that they have not taken the Dharan team an easy opponent. Dharan Coach Milan Shrestha also opined they will play to impress the audiences. “We are confident of a good result,” said Shrestha.
In all 12 teams are participating in tournament. For the first time in the tournament history the participating clubs will be provided match money. In every day’s match, both the winning and the losing sides will be provided with Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively as match money.
Other teams in fray for the championship include are five-time champions Nepal Police Club, Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club, ANFA U-19 Team, Tribhuvan Army Club, Himalayan Sherpa Club, Nepal Armed Police Force Club, Nabil Three Star Club and Rupandehi-XI. Denzong Boys of Sikkim and Sahara FC of UK are the foreign invitees in the tournament.
Champions will earn Rs 200,000 while the runners-up will walk away with Rs 100,000. Also, the best player of the tournament will get a Yamaha motorcycle and the best players in four different positions — goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward — and the best coach will get Rs 10,000 each. The highest scorer will will earn Rs 15,000.