Macchindra survives while Brigade Boys goes down

KATHMANDU, July 15: Brigade Boys Club on Friday became the last team to be relegated from the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of already relegated Swayambhu Club at the Dasharath Stadium.

Koilapani Polestar of Nawalparasi and Kalimati based United Youth Club are the other two teams that have already been relegated in the 18-team contest.

Relegation threatened G Five Machhindra FC had already avoided relegation threat following the defeat of Brigade who later played a goalless draw to departmental team Nepal Army Club at the APF ground, Halchowk.

With the results Machhindra finished the league campaign unchanged in the 14th place, above the relegation zone with 14 points while Army finished top eight with 29 points while Brigade 15th with 10 points and Swayambhu 16th with 11 points.

In another match at Dasharath Stadium, Mahindra Bansbari FC came from two goals deficit to earn 3-3 draw against Saraswoti Youth Club. Bansbari promoted to the first division in current league finished 10th with 21 points while Saraswoti with similar status finished 13th with 15 points.

Brigade making its debut in the top flight football in 2061 BS enjoyed three seasons in the A div before being relegated in 2065. But in the very year it was promoted to A division from B division league conducted by Nepal Football Association. This is the first appearance of Brigade in the league after a comeback to top flight.

Despite taking an early fourth minute lead, Brigade failed to continue with it as it conceded one goal each in either halves. Nabin Rai had given a lead to Brigade in the fourth minute from box. Santosh Basnet hit back the equalizer in the 20th minute through a superb freekick from the right flank. African recruit for Swayambhu Chinedu Fransis scored the decisive goal in the 68th minute in his solo effort beating two opponent defenders and goalie Suman Ranjitkar.

Fransis and Sushil Basnet hit the woodwork each in either half while Francise also failed to beat goalie in one-on-one position in the 16th minute.

In another match, Saraswoti had taken two goals lead within 19 minutes scored by Dilen Loktan and Ramesh Tamang. Loktan scored in custodian Lucky Karki´s rebounder off Martin Nwando´s strike. Tamang also scored in a similar fashion in goalie´s rebounder off Krishna Gopal Shrestha´s shot.

Nabin Lama pulled one back five minutes after break for Bansbari through a header in his own rebounder from bar. Dennis Ovko Ochieng made it 2-2 through a header in Subin Ghimire´s cross.

However, Sarsowoti again restored its lead a minute later when substitute Sajan Bohara´s long shot entered net as goalie Lucky Karki marching towards ball fall in the slippery ground. But Arnavd Keny got equalizer five minutes from time through a brilliant attempt from box after controlling a pass from Anand Gurung.

Bansbari coach Hari Om Shrestha said that he was satisfied with the team´s overall performance in the league. "Though our target was to finish top ten we ended up finishing in top eight," Shrestha said adding, he was ready to help the probe committee formed to study match fixing rumors. Bansbari is rumored to have played a fixed match against Machhindra. "Match fixers should be punished and if they are not punished there will be numerous match fixing cases in the national league," Shrestha predicted.

"We are satisfied that we avoided relegation despite inexperienced player in our squad," said Saraswoti´s assistant coach Pradip Nepal.

ANFA probe smells rat

The five member probe committee formed to investigate match fixing rumors in the ongoing Martyrs Memorial League itself is under suspicion. Bansbari is rumored to have played a fixed match in its 3-0 defeat at the hands of relegation threatened Machhindra FC. Former General Secretary of Bansbari Rajaram Dhakal is also a member of the five-member committee formed under coordination of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Vice president Mahesh Bista. This has questioned the impartiality of the committee. ANFA officials Dhirendra Pradhan, Ganesh Chand and Nepal Police DIG Bigyan Raj Sharma are other members of the committee. Though Dhakal is nominated to the committee in the capacity of ANFA legal advisor, he was also former office bearer of Bansbari FC. "I was the member secretary of Bansbari before the election of current board. But I am not event a general member of Bansbari after my appointment in ANFA," Dhakal said to the Republica over telephone.

Brigade, Swayambhu plays with black armband

Brigade Boys Club and Swayambhu Club wore black armbands during their clash at the Dasharath Stadium on Friday. Before the kick off, they jointly carried a banner with the message “Stop match fixing in football”. Brigade was almost sure of relegation after Machhindra´s 3-0 win against Bansbari in the so called fixed-match. "We are relegated in the current season due to Bansbari-Machhindra´s fixed-match and it is open secret that Boys Union fell victim to Machhindra´s fixing in last edition as well," said Brigade secretary Progess Rai. Clarifying the reason for wearing black armbands Rai stated, "It is our symbolic disagreement with match fixing tendency. If fixing continues in football there is no point in making huge investments in football," said Rai who denied any allegations of fixing by his side. Swayambhu coah Bikram Lama opined that fixing shall take football nowhere. "We could have played a fixed match and saved Brigade but we did not do so," Lama said.

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