Sports

Nagarkoti heroics send APF to Pokhara Cup final

- DEEPAK PARIYAR, Lekhnath (Kaski)

Feb 9, 2019-

Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club survived a barrage of onslaught from Rissho University to advance to the final of the Pokhara Cup football tournament defeating the Japanese outfits 4-1 in tiebreaker on Friday.

The regulation 90 and another 30 minutes of extra time failed to produce any goal and the outcome was decided from the spot kicks. APF skipper Sudip Sikhrakar, Ashish Lama, Rajiv Lopchan and goalkeeper Raju Nagarkoti all converted from the spot for the departmental teams. Only skipper Takuya Hitomi scored from the spot for Rissho.

Played in a slippery pitch caused by the overnight rain, Rishho appeared to take the match under control from early on putting constant pressure on APF backline. APF custodian Nagarkoti kept the game scoreless punching out an effort from Ryohji Fujimori for a corner in the 13th minute. Fujimori had connected a cross from Kesuke Omuro.

Rissho kept piling pressure even after the break as Nagarkoti yet again denied skipper Hitomi’s shot in the 54th minute. Omuro was in right place to retrieve the ball in the rebound but Nagarkoti picked himself up quickly to yet again deny the forward. Nagarkoti was a thorn in the eyes of Rissho and the APF goalkeeper yet again palmed out an attempt from Fujimori in the 73rd minute.

Rissho launched a wave of attack late in the game but Nagarkoti stood firm to keep the game scoreless. The APF goalkeeper blocked a shot from Hitomi five minutes from time and Ryota Umehara shot above the bar in the resulting rebound. Umehara was unlucky in the 87th minute as his header flew whiskers away from the target. Rishho’s fate was sealed when Umihara’s shot from the edge of the area crashed into the woodworks. APF prevailed in the tiebreker and man-of-the-match Nagarkoti once again made crucial save to send Rissho packing.

Rissho coach Takeshi Tokairin praised the valiant effort of their opponents’ defence. “We had to pay the price for missing out on too many scoring opportunities,” said Tokairin. His APF counterpart Rajendra Tamang the victory was “unimaginable.” “Had we played freely without tightening our defence, we were certain to concede too many goals,” said Tamang, who credited Nagarkoti for steering the team to the final.

The Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division champions Manang Marshyangdi Club will take on Dauphins Family of Cameroon in the second semi-finals on Saturday.

Published: 09-02-2019 10:34

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