Three Star's seventh win in a row moves them to 3rd while NRT shares point in a stalemate

KATHMANDU, June 20: Mega Three Star Club registered a 3-1 win over Saraswoti Youth Club on Monday to climb to third position in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the APF Ground, Halchowk, while New Road Team (NRT) was held to a goalless draw by top flight debutant Swayambhu Club.

The win, seventh in a row for Three Star, lifted the team one spot in the table with 28 points, four points behind leader Nepal Police Club and three behind Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) after playing equal 12 matches.

The result left NRT unchanged in the fifth spot with 26 points, while Swayambhu also remained unchanged in the relegation zone, third from the bottom, with four points.

All three goals for Three Star came in a span of 17 minutes during the first half as Ugandan striker George Ssempala, Yogesh Gurung and Biraj Maharjan were on target for the team.

Dominating the show, Three Star opened the scoring in the 30th minute when debutant Ssempala lashed home a powerful shot from the edge. Similarly, an unmarked Gurung doubled the tally in the 44th minute when he tapped in Maharjan´s acute pass from the box. Maharjan hit Three Star´s third goal in the second minute of first-half injury time when his quick strike from the left entered the net after taking a deflection off the pole.

Yona Elias Ndabile, the Tanzanian recruit of Saraswoti, pulled one back in the 75th minute after beating Three Star´s second choice goalie Sanjeeb Shrestha and a defender. Three Star had fielded Shrestha as regular goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong was down with fever.

Three Star coach Meghraj KC, who has high hopes from Ugandan striker Ssempala, expressed satisfaction toward his side´s performance. "He was a member of his country´s U-17 squad and I think he is a better player than all the other foreigners currently playing in the league," KC said.

Saraswoti coach Pradip Nepal said that his team still has strong hopes of avoiding relegation.

In another match, minnow Swayambhu put a break on NRT´s winning run after three matches. Though Swayambhu players could make only a couple of attempts on goal, they enjoyed fairly equal ball possession and also took the ball frequently toward NRT´s box.

Despite creating more chances than the opponent, NRT failed to find the back of the net, thanks largely to a couple of heroic saves by goalie Emmanuel and a stubborn Swayambhu defending line-up.

NRT´s Aaron Blackie Cole was thrice denied by goalie Emmanuel in the second half while Subash Gurung and Rajeev Gurung also squandered a scoring opportunity each.

Swayambhu´s first attempt on goal came in the 13th minute when Jitendra Dhimal hit a half-volley strike from the box, which was easily taken by custodian Raju Yogi. Pushpa Chhetri also failed to beat the goalie in the second half.

Swayambhu coach Bikram Lama, who was satisfied with the result, termed it as an achievement. He, however, lamented weak forwards and also revealed that his side would come up with three foreigner players, including two strikers, in the upcoming match against Bauddha FC.

NRT coach Raju Shakya pointed out lack of coordination among his players. "The boys created few chances and failed to utilize them too," Shakya said, adding that the absence of Jitendra Karki and Olansile Sulaiman also made his defending line-up weak. The duo had received second yellow cards in the previous match.

Shakya also strongly criticized the referee´s decision to not award penalty to his team during the later stage of the second half when goalie Emmanuel had brought Cole down in the box.

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