Sankata win, finish runners-up
- ‘A’ Division League
Jan 3, 2019-
Sankata Club fought back to beat Three Star Club 2-1 and cement second-place finish in the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League on Wednesday while champions Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) beat Himalayan Sherpa Club 2-1 to extend their 100 percent winning to 12 games.
At the ANFA Complex in Satdobato, defender Amit Tamang struck both the goals from penalty spot for Sankata. Three Star had taken a 30th minute lead through Ranjan Bista. The ninth victory of the campaign secured second place finish for Sankata with 28 points, who are five points ahead of third-placed Three Star with only last round matches left. Champions will receive Rs 5 million, while the runners-up will get Rs 3.5 million. The third-placed side will collect Rs 2.5 million.
“We came here for an outright victory to seal the second-place finish,” said Sankata coach Salyan Khadgi who started the league as underdogs with initial target of finishing inside the Top Five. “It is matter of pride for us to excel even our own expectation. The credit goes to hard effort of players who gave their 110 percent,” said the former captain of the club who took charge of the team for the first time in the top-tier league.
Sankata have so far won nine games, drawn once and lost twice. “We even had the luxury of dreaming at the title after the ninth rounds where we had won eight games,” said Khadgi who team settled for a 1-1 against Brigade Boys Club in the very next match before losing to MMC in the 11th round which settled the league title for good.
In the evenly contested affair, Three Star’s Ajayi Martins shot above the bar in the fourth minute before Sankata’s Ellon Maxwell squandered a scoring chance in the 27th, firing above the bar from close range. Three Star made the breakthrough in the 30th through Ranjan Bista who dribbled past two defenders before firing a low drive to take his scoring tally to five goals.
In the 33rd, Sankata’s Laxman Ruchal’s freekick from edge of area sailed inched wide before Tamang hit back in the 42nd through penalty after he was fouled in the area by Suman Bal. Tamang placed a perfect shot at the left top to level the scores. In the first half stoppage time, Ruchal forced Three Star goalie Alan Neupane for a diving save.
Tamang put Sankata ahead again from the spot when Soujan Rai was brought down in the area by Peter Segun to put Three Star under pressure. The goal took his league tally to five goals. Though Three Star piled on late pressure they failed to get on the scoresheet. In the 71st Ranjit Dhimal’s freekick smashed on the upright before Nirajan Khadka headed above bar in the 80th.
Three Star coach Meghraj KC rued on the missed opportunity of securing the second position with victory on Wednesday. “Now we should focus on third place,” said KC whose team can finish third if they beat Himalayan Sherpa Club in the last round. KC also accepted the fact that his team failed to deliver on the early promises in the league. “We played well below par and to add to our misery and Martins could not play the whole matches due to injury,” said KC. KC also partly blamed club’s indifference of bolstering the squad after a brilliant run of seven knockout titles in the lead up to the league.
At the APF grounds in Halchowk, both the teams were restricted to 10-man in the 69th minute after MMC’s Indian defender Muhammed Asif and Sherpa forward Bishwas Shrestha were sent off for instigating a brawl. Nigerian forward Olawale Afeez had provided MMC the lead in the 36th minute with his seventh goal of the league and joined Ranjit Dhimal of Three Star as the leading scorer. Sherpa restored the parity in the 45th minute through Shrestha. Diminutive midfielder Bishal Rai restored MMC’s lead in the 63rd to ensure that MMC maintain their cent percent winning streak. The last round action resumes from Saturday.
Published: 03-01-2019 08:46