RCT cofirms its berth in National league

KATHMANDU, July 11: Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) swept to an emphatic 5-1 win over Saraswoti Club on Monday in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the Dasharath Stadium to seal its place in the upcoming National League.

In another match, a last-gasp penalty goal helped Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club salvage a 1-1 draw with Friends Club.

At the Halchowk ground, first-half goals from Laxman Ruchal and Asim Jung Karki guided New Road Team (NRT) to a 2-0 win over Bauddha FC. Both Sherpa and NRT also confirmed thier places in the top eight with the results.

The win left RCT unchanged in the seventh spot with 30 points and a match to spare, while newcomer Saraswoti is in 13th place with 14 points. Brigade Boys Club and Machhindra with two matches each in hand are in 14th and 15th positions with 10 points. Brigade Boys will take on Manang Marshyangdi Club and Swayambhu Club in the upcoming matches, while Machhindra will face Bansbari and Army Club.

Sherpa dropped one spot to sixth place with 30 points while NRT climbed one place to fifth with 31 points. Friends Club is in ninth position with 24 points while Bauddha is two spots below Friends with 20 points.

In the first match held at the Dasharath Stadium, Saraswoti took a 24th minute lead when African recruit Yona Elish headed the ball into an open net from the box. Elish had met the ball after a long shot from Mahomod Naveed bounced over an advancing goalie Dilip Chhetri.

But Ntolo Ngoumou leveled the score for RCT in the 29th minute through penalty after Bhim Darlami was brought down by goalie Suresh Darlami in the danger zone. David Nkang, who scored twice, doubled the tally in the last minute of the first half with an unstoppable 25-yard shot that entered the net hitting the inner edge of the bar.

Amar Dangol made it 3-1 for RCT nine minutes after the interval when he tapped in Shekhar Limbu´s cross for his eighth league goal. Limbu hit a powerful strike from ahead of the arch in the 72nd minute and the ball entered the net in the far post. Nkang sealed the match in the 79th minute with another powerful shot from the right flank.

"Now we have confirmed a place in the National League and we are hopeful of finishing in the sixth place," stated RCT coach Madhu Karki, whose side will take on Bauddha FC in its last match on Wednesday.

Saraswoti´s assistant coach Pradip Nepal was delighted that his team was almost safe from relegation. He also criticized the referee for awarding the penalty. "The referee´s decision was totally wrong," Nepal said.

In the late match, Sherpa toiled hard to earn a point from Friends Club. Pukar Gahatraj scored from the spot in the last minute of stoppage time after Dudh Raj Bhattarai handled the ball inside the danger zone in an attempt to clear a deflection off Kigozi Ismail.

Earlier, Santosh Tamang had put Friends Club in command in the 62nd minute when he unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the box to stun goalie Amrit Chaudhary.

In the competitive match, national player Jagjeet Shrestha squandered a scoring chance for Sherpa during the early moments when he hit wide in a one-on-one with the goalie. Likewise, Som Bahadur Malla´s header in the stoppage time of first half was brilliantly saved by goalie Sagar Grurung.

Prakash Budhathoki and Subarna Samekham´s shots in either half for Friends were denied by goalie Chaudhary.

"We were lucky to earn a point despite missing many scoring chances," said Sherpa coach Upendra Man Singh, who lauded the opponent´s performance.

"We made more than half a dozen mistakes today and now we are out of the race for top eight," a disappointed Friends coach Paras Chaudhary said.

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