Jhapa shoot Three Star out in first semi-finals

- Arjun Rajbanshi, Birtamode

Mar 9, 2019-

Hosts Jhapa XI made it to the Jhapa Gold Cup football tournament final for the fourth time after a battling win over top-tier outfits Three Star Club on Friday.

Jhapa pipped the Lalitpur-based team 3-1 in tiebreaker after 90 minutes of regular play and another 15 minutes of extra time failed to break the goalless deadlock. Pujan Uparkoti, Devendra Tamang and goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar converted while skipper Karna Limbu and Heman Gurung were denied by Three Star custodian Alan Neupane in the tiebreaker. Only Rajin Dhimal converted for Three Star from the spot. Three Star were left to rue on their failure to capitalise on the lion’s share of ball possession in the regulation time.

Three Star came close to scoring in the 18th minute only to see a powerful shot from Ajayi Martins sail inches of the target. Jhapa responded immediately as Francis shot whiskers away from the post a minute later.

Jhapa survived a big scare in the 29th minute when goalkeeper fumbled a Rajin Dhimal freekick allowing Sushil to apply a goal-bounder header. However, an alert Dilen Loktan scrambled the ball to safety. Jhapa also missed out on taking the lead as their foreign recruit Kazim Bhukhari failed to direct the ball into the net in a situation when Neupane was out of his position. Uparkoti then wasted a chance for Jhapa shooting tamely that did not bother custodian Neupane.

In a frantic 10 minutes, Three star responded with Sushil shooting straight at the grateful hands of Thapa Magar while veteran forward Anil Gurung’s attempt also went agonizing wide off the target four minutes later. Heman Gurung was then denied by Three Star custodian Neupane in the 70th minute but in the process spilled the ball. Jhapa forward

Victor Amoibi was lurking dangerously in the area but reacted a bit late allowing Three Star defender to clear the ball to safety.

Three Star were unlucky in the 78th minute as Bijay Dhimal’s powerful shot ricocheted off the woodwork. Kazim’s header then went whiskers off target three minutes later while Heman also shot also went inches wide for Jhapa deep into the stoppage time. Jhapa goalkeeper Thapa Magar was adjudged man-of-the-match was earned Rs 15,000.

Three Star coach Megh Raj KC was disappointed to have lost the semi-final match for the second straight year against the hosts. “We should have sealed the match in regular play as we squandered too many scoring opportunities,” said KC. His Jhapa counterpart Prabesh Katuwal said he was happy with his team’s never-die attitude. “We were far from out usual best but what counts the most is result and that went in our favour,” added Katuwal.

Defending champions Tribhuvan Army Club will take on Dauphins Family of Cameroon in the second semi-finals on Saturday.

Published: 09-03-2019 09:50

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