KATHMANDU, April 15: Armed Police Force (APF) and Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) started their British Gorkha Cup Football Tournament campaign with convincing victories on Sunday and booked their places in last eight at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
APF routed Mahindra Bansbari FC 5-1 with all five goals coming from different players and MMC edged past Saraswoti Youth Club 2-0 with early goals.
In the day´s first match, Santosh Shrestha, Arjun Subba, Ganesh Lawati, Ranjan Bista and Milan Rai scored a goal each for APF. Pukar Ale Magar got the consolation for Bansbari.
Youth player Sulav Maskey emerged hero in MMC´s victory after getting rare start as he opened scoring in the fifth minute and set up Nepali international Anil Gurung who doubled the advantage nine minutes later.
APF will now take on Mega Three Star in the quarterfinal to be played on Saturday and MMC will lock horns with the winner between Friends Club and New Road Team (NRT).
In course of putting MMC in charge, Maskey sent the ball past the keeper from area in a long pass of defender Kalu Thapa. Gurung made a powerful attempt from the box to double the advantage in Maskey´s pass. Maskey was awarded the most valuable player.
The early form of MMC with nine players of ANFA Academy signaled that it could register an empathetic victory over minnow Saraswoti. But MMC later squandered more than half of dozen scoring chances and was forced to settle with two goals.
Though MMC dominated the show and piled up immense pressure, Saraswoti also occasionally played good football. Few times Saraswoti took the ball to opponent´s danger zone but failed to convert. The only dangerous attack from Saraswoti came in the 39th minute only to see Sabir Chaudhary fire inches wide from the post.
MMC squandered more than half a dozen of scoring chances. Gurung´s 27th minute header for MMC went inches wide, Ram Thapa and Sujal Shrestha also missed scoring chances in the first half.
During the second half, Saraswoti goalie Subin Ghimire brilliantly dived and prevented Shiva Shresth´s powerful strike from the edge. Thapa missed two more scoring chances for MMC.
"We could have finished with 8 or 9 goals had the boys utilized scoring chances," MMC´s coach Devendra Jung Shahi said during the post match conference. "Every team puts fighting show when they play against MMC and we also had short training period," Shahi added hinting at the ossibility of fielding two foreign players in the next match. Defender Anatole Thierry Zambo was the foreign recruit fielded by MMC. Nabin Neaupane was the only new signing of MMC included in starting line up. Saraswoti´s coach Pradip Nepal also said they had short time for preparations.
In the first match, APF scored at regular intervals with two goals coming in the first half. Santosh Shrestha gave 8th minute lead to APF taking advantage of judgment error of Bansbari goalie Manish Timsina and defenders.
Arjun Subba, declared the most valuable player, scored from close range again capitalizing on error of defender Man Bahadur Pariyar. Pariyar stopped the ball rolling towards net ahead of goalline while goalie was beaten by Ganesh Lawati but he did not clear the ball providing Subba an opprotunity for an easy goal.
Lawati, who squandered more than three scoring chances, headed the third goal from a corner kick taken by Milan Rai. Ranjan Bista, a 65th minute replacement of Santosh Shrestha, made it 4-0 in Kumar Thapa pass from close range and Milan Rai sealed the victory during the stoppage time. Pukar Ale Magar got the consolation for Bansbari three minutes from time.
APF coach Janak Singh Tharu said his team well was set following two-month preparations. "We have also made changes in players´ position and have fielded two new players -- forward Ranjan Bista and defender Shiva Ram Giri."
Tharu´s counterpart Bharat Lama of Bansbari commented that his side gave chances to young players and come up with the target of conceding few goals. "Our main target is league rather than this tournament," Lama said.
G Five Machhindra Club will play against Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) in Monday´s match at 15:00 NST.