An extra time goal from Buddha Lama steered holders Nepal Police Club (NPC) to the final of the Buddha Subba Gold Cup as the departmental side edged Sankata Club 2-1 in the semi-finals at the Dharan Stadium on Wednesday.
Lama netted the decisive goal four minutes before the end of first 15 minutes of the extra time in a game that was seemingly heading towards penalty shootout. The two sides were locked at 1-1 in the 90 minutes of regulation time before the game had to be decided in the extra time. NPC had taken a 54th minute lead through Rejin Subba before winger Prakash Budathoki levelled 10 minutes later.
Police, chasing their third title of the season, will now meet the winners of Thursday’s second semi-final match between Three Star Club and Durgapur Steel FC of Kolkata in the title clash. The final is slated for Saturday.
Police came into the tournament fresh from their title triumph of the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup in Pokhara on Saturday. They had also won gold medal during the National Sports Council Championships in Dang about a month earlier.
Sankata, the losers to NPC in last edition’s final, had bright start in the game when in the 11th minute Budhathoki set Raj Paudel inside the area only to see the latter wasting the move. In the 21st minute, Suman Lama received a pass from Rabi Tamang but ended up firing wide off the target.
Sankata’s foreign recruit Cedric Aba squandered an easy chance in the 25th minute after he failed to connect a pass from Budathoki inside the area allowing Dinesh Rajbanshi to clear the ball. In the 36th minute Sankata goalie Binay Shrestha prevented Avishek Rijal’s header off a Tej Tamang corner.
Subba provided NPC the breakthrough nine minutes after restart in a solo effort unleashing a powerful shot following a quick sprint with the ball from the midfield. Sankata, who had stunned one of the title favourites Manang Marshyangdi Club 1-0 in the opening match, restored parity in the 64th minute. The homegrown Budathoki made a spectacular finish to convert a cross from Aba.
Lama settled the nerves in the 11th minute of the first half of additional time with a perfect finish to convert Tej Tamang’s corner.
NPC coach Ananta Thapa said his inexperienced side has a long way to go in the domestic football. “The team is formed only after the NSC Championships and they are yet to set properly,” said the former captain of Police adding that his side successfully executed the team strategy. Sankata coach Salyan Khadgi said the match was evenly contested affair until the latter stages of the game.Published: 2018-02-08 09:18:52