Sports

‘A’ Division League: MMC secure record eighth title

- PRAJWAL OLI, LALITPUR

Dec 28, 2018-

Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) clinched the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League in style for the record eighth time after a 3-1 victory over Sankata Club at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato on Thursday. 

Substitute Pujan Uperkoti and Adelaja Somide struck after the break for MMC, who were earlier gifted an own goal in the first half stoppage time. The 11th victory confirmed MMC the title with two matches to spare and with in a chance to represent Nepal in the 2019 AFC Cup, the second-tire club competition organised by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in February. The title also ensured Rs 5 million for MMC. 

The 100 winning record meant MMC now have maximum 33 points from 11 games. Both Sankata, who have two games left, and Three Star, who have three matches remaining, cannot surpass MMC to top. Sankata are eight points behind MMC and Three Star 10 adrift. Three Star can overtake Sankata if they beat Nepal Police Club (NPC) in their next fixture on Friday. 

“Credit goes to the hard work of players, coaches, management and the fans,” said MMC coach Suman Shrestha who was taking charge of the top-tier team for the first time in his career. “Now our target is to maintain the winning in the next two games,” said the elated coach. 

MMC also had clinched the title the last time the league was held in 2013-14 season. Infighting within All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and 2015 earthquake was two of the major reasons that affected the league until it resumed this year after the leadership change in the football governing body. MMC also won the league titles in 1986, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2003, 2005-06. Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT), who were last crowned the champions on 1984, are behind MMC with six titles under their belt. 

MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha, who maintained clean sheet in six matches and conceded only five goals, credited the success to hard work of teammate on and off the field. “The league may not have the provision of relegation but we can take positives considering that it resumes after all,” said Shrestha adding that the feelings of winning league at jampacked Dashrath Stadium would have been more special. The Dashrath Stadium is currently undergoing renovation.

MMC, who required an outright victory to seal the title,  ratting the woodwork twice in the first 15 minutes. Defender Kamal Shrestha found the crossbar in the ninth minute before Hemang Gurung’s 30-yard freekick also smashed the bar in the 15th minute. Gurung was also unlucky in the 68th as his strike ricochetted off the bar. 

MMC’s Nigerian recruit Olawale Afeez squandered a golden chance in the 34th minute as the unmarked forward ended up heading wide. MMC got the breakthrough in the first half injury time courtesy a blunder from Sankata goalie Raja Babu Shrestha. Shrestha palmed a Bishal Rai corner into his own net. “We conceded silly goal in the first half injury and it turned the complexion of the game,” said Sankata coach Salyan Khadgi. “We were forced to go forward in search of equaliser and MMC capitalised on it to score more goals,” said Khadgi.

Uperkoti, who replaced Sujal Shrestha in the 80th minute, doubled the MMC advantage a minute later as he headed home a Bishal Rai corner. Nigerian forward Adelaja settled the MMC nerves in the 87th minute when he was allowed for a free header from area in Rai’s cross. Though Aba pulled one back for Sankata in the 89th minute with his lone effort, they ran out of time. 

In the early kickoff, Nepal APF Club came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw against Chyasal Youth Club. Chyasal took the lead in the 30th minute through Santa Bahadur Gurung. APF wasted golden equalising chance as Sudip Shikhrakar’s 41st minute penalty was denied by custodian Dinesh Thapa Magar. APF were awarded penalty after Chyasal skipper Devendra Tamang fouled Ashish Lama inside the area. But Shyam Nepali levelled the scores in the 54th minute with a 25-yard scorcher. The result meant APF stay in sixth with 17 points while Chyasal are in eighth with 15 points. 

 

Today’s Fixtures

 

Saraswati vs Army (1130 NST)

Three Star vs Police (1430 NST)

(Venue: ANFA Complex, Satdobato)

Published: 28-12-2018 07:34

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