Manang, Army battle to victory

  • ‘A’ Division League
- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

Dec 11, 2018-

Title favourites Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) and Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) were made to sweat for victories by Machhindra Club and Brigade Boys Club (BBC) in the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato on Monday. 

Nigerian forward Olawale Afeez struck five minutes from time for MMC while winger Tanka Basnet headed the all-important goal for departmental giants as both the teams won win an identical 1-0 margins. The outcome puts MMC, who maintained 100 percent winning record intact, three points clear at the top of the standings with maximum 21 points from seven games.

TAC, the only other unbeaten team of the league, sits on fourth position with 17 points, one point behind second placed Three Star and third placed Sankata Club. Unlike the Army team and MMC, Machhindra is yet to taste victory and is second from the bottom with three points in the 14-team league. BBC is in 12th place with four points. 

Machhindra came up with fighting spirit and made its intent clear in the very second minute through Bishal Rai whose fierce shot from edge of the area sail inches above the bar. Nepali international Anjan Bista responded for MMC in the 21st when he shot above bar. It was again Machhindra in the 28th minute which forced goalie Bishal Shrestha to deny Ajit Gurung in one-on-one encounter inside the area. 

A minute later Bista’s 30-yard attempt was calmly held by Machhindra goalie Deep Karki and in the 34th the custodian again denied Bista’s header on skipper Maharjan cross. Two minutes before the break, Karki again blocked Bista’s close-ranged shot. MMC, which opted to rest some of its key players to keep them fresh for next match against Army, was forced to bring forwards Afeez and Bimal Rana and midfielder Bishal Rai in the second half.  

Karki was yet again called into action as he denied Heman Gurung in the 53rd minute. Three minutes later Machhindra survived another scare when Bista’s half volley at the far post ricochetted off the upright. Bista should have done much better than applying a tame shot straight into the grateful hands of Karki in the 65th minute. 

Bista then squandered a great chance to give MMC the lead when failed to convert the spot kick, which it was awarded when Saheed Gbenga Anifowose tripped Somide inside the area. Bimal Rana was unlucky not have put MMC ahead in the 80th minute as his tap-in from six-yard area was smartly cleared by Bivek Pandit from the goalline. Substitute Afeez, who replaced Dona Thapa in the 56th, struck the winner for MMC in the 85th minute, 

slamming in a low drive following a pass from Zimbabwean Victor Kamhuka. 

MMC coach Suman Shrestha admitted his team had struggled to cope with the minnows. “We had rested some of our key players but we were forced reinforce our team in the latter half,” said  Shrestha who also saw big improvement in the basement teams. “As the league does not have provision of relegation, they are playing games without any pressure.” Machhindra coach Nishan Shrestha said that it was an evenly contested game. He also partly blamed the defeat to referee awarding controversial penalty.   

In the early match at ANFA Complex, Tanka Basnet seal the victory for Army in the 66th minute. He was left unmarked and allowed to head home a in a Tek Bahadur Budathoki cross. Despite the win, Army coach Nabin Neupane believed his team’s performance in on the decline. “If we continue to come up with such game, it will be extremely difficult to stake claim for the title,” said Neupane. The eighth round action resumes from Thursday after two days’ rest. 

Published: 11-12-2018 09:01

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