Sports

‘A’ Division League: Friends, Army share spoils

- PRAJWAL OLI, LALITPUR

Dec 7, 2018-

One of the title favourites Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) was held to a goalless draw by Friends Club while Brigade Boys Club and Machhindra Club also played a 0-0 stalemate during the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato on Thursday. 

The result comes as a blow for the departmental giants’ who now trails leader Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) by four points and one adrift of second-placed Three Star Club and third-placed Sankata Club. Despite falling behind the leaders, the Army team is only the second team after MMC to maintain its unbeaten run so far. MMC has 18 points with six wins in as many matches. Friends is in 10th place with five points in the 14-team league which do not have provision of relegation. BBC has four and Machhindra three points. 

Despite dropping points, TAC coach Nabin Neupane insisted his side is still very much in the title race. “We have big matches to come against the likes of Three Star and MMC. We can gain on those teams if we beat them,” said the former Nepali international. Neupane partly blamed the defeat to the absence of his key striker Bharat Khawas and below par performance of Nawayug Shrestha. He also rued on the missed opportunities. Khawas was serving a one-match suspension while Shrestha only appeared in the 75th minute after three-week injury layoff and failed to find his feet. 

TAC struck the woodworks twice while Friends goalkeeper Dev Limbu, who was filling in for injured Bangladeshi goalkeeper Mohammed Nurul Karim, made numerous heroic saves to keep his team in the game. Tanka Basnet then forced Friends custodian to make a diving save in the 14th minute. Two minutes later midfielder Santosh Tamang’s attempt from edge of the area sailed inches above the bar. 

In the 20th minute, Limbu also blocked a close-ranged Basnet shot before Friends survived yet another scare in the 37th when Anil Maharjan blocked Tek Bahadur Buda-thoki’s header at the goalline in a Dinesh Henjan cross. In a wave of TAC attack, defender Bimal Pandaya’s header in Tamang’s corner rebounded off inner edge of the bar in the 39th minute. Pandaya was also denied by the woodwork six minutes later following a corner from Henjan.

Army lost the spark after the break yet it continued to threaten Friends goalkeeper. In the 54th Henjan fired above bar form the area and 10 minutes later he rescued the departmental team from conceding a goal when he blocked Sanjog Maharjan’s goal-bound ball. TAC custodian Bikesh Kuthu also denied Rumesh Bartaula in the 75th and three minutes later Anil Maharjan’s powerful shot from the zone went off target. Despite all the near misses, TAC almost snatched a last-gasp winner three minute from time as a powerful Basnet shot was foiled by goalkeeper Limbu. 

The seventh round action begins on Saturday with Nepal Police Club taking on Himalayan Sherpa Club and Sankata Club up against New Road Team at APF grounds in Halchowk.

Published: 07-12-2018 09:31

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