KATHMANDU, Sept 15: CMG Club Sankata stunned National League runner up Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club 1-0 even as the national champion Nepal Police Club marked its beginning of Ncell Cup Football Championship with a 6-2 thumping of Saraswati Club on Saturday at the Dasharath Stadium.
Skipper Salyan Khadgi scored the match winner for Sankata in the 62nd minute and helped his team reclaim its place in the top tier football for the current season. Sankata was relegated to B division football two years ago.
After nearly missing an opportunity to secure three points for Sankata, as his spotkick was blocked by Sherpa goalie Binaya Shrestha, Khadgi promptly amended his mistake and hit the target in his second simultaneous attack before the diving goalie could recover. The penalty was awarded as Sankata´s African recruit Samual Ongono was fouled by Som Bahadur Malla.
Sherpa created more chances than Sankata but failed to utilize them. Ganesh Khadka squandered a couple of scoring chances for Sherpa while Dinesh Karki and Pukar Gahatraj were also unsuccessful in their attacks.
Sankata wasted a chance for doubling the advantage when Dikesh Khadgi´s hit the bar in one-on-one with goalie Shrestha.
Sankata´s coach Maheshwor Mulmi, who rejoined the club after seven years, said he was pleased with his side´s performance. "They played better than I had expected. I am pleased with the junior players´ performance who came from B division." Mulmi´s initial target is to see his team qualify for the quarterfinals.
Sherpa coach Arjun Lama said that inexperience players and lack of proper substitution cost the team dear. "We don´t have proper replacements for many positions. We didn´t have sound substitution for defender Sachindra Dhimal who had to be replaced in the fourth minute after getting injured," said Lama, the former coach of Manang Marshyandi Club (MMC) and Bauddha FC, who is taking charge of the A division team after four years.
In another match, skipper Jumanu Rai netted twice including the opener and late goal for departmental giants Police in its thrashing of minnows Saraswati. Rai opened the account in second minute with an easy shot from the area in a through pass of Yogesh Shrestha. Police doubled the advantage in the 19th minute after Parbat Pandey´s curling freekick from 20 yards entered net.
Saraswati replied by cutting the goal deficit a minute later through its Tanzanian recruit Yona Elias Ndabila who made a skillful display beating the two defenders and advancing goalie Ritesh Thapa.
He also netted second goal for Sawaswati one minute from time in a similar fashion.
But Police netted four other goals at a regular interval with third goal coming in the 34th minute through Bhola Silwal, who made a quick shot from the area after controlling a pass from Shrestha.
Police was 4-1 up by 62nd minute as Ramesh Katwal headed in Parbat Pandey´s freekick. Substitute Bharat Shah, a 61st minute replacement of Chetan Karki, struck another in the 80th minute in an open net off custodian Ashok Baral´s rebounder, who had left his position to punch Silwal´s post attempt. Rai made it 6-1 five minutes later dribbling past three Saraswati players and the goalie.
Chetan Karki marked his first appearance for Police in two years after his knee injury. Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha commented that Karki shall be totally fit before the league.
Coach Shrestha opined that his side was under pressure because it was their first match and that the muddy condition of the ground further complicated the matters. "After achieving early goals, the boys took the match lightly," Shrestha said. As in other tournaments, he again reiterated that his players, Ritesh Thapa, Suman Subedi, Dipen Shrestha and Chetan Ghimire were not totally fit.
Saraswati´s coach Pradip Nepal said that his side came under pressure and were dominated after conceding early goals. Armed Police Force (APF) will take on Friends Club and New Road Team will lock horns against Nepal Army Club on Sunday.