KATHMANDU, Sept 23: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) inched closer to the knockout stage (quarterfinal) of the Ncell Cup Football Championship on Sunday as it registered 2-0 win over Nepal Army Club at Dasharath Stadium.
In the match marred by controversial referee decision Sujal Shrestha and Anil Gurung scored in either half for national coach Krishna Thapa´s side sending it top of Group B with six points .
Army lies in the second place with three points.
FIFA referee Laba Khatri showed yellow card to MMC´s African defender Mbile Leonel Stephen who manhandled Army defender Jeetendra Karki in the 25th minute after the defender tackled Stephen.
Army coach Yogamber Suwal was angry over referee´s decision referring it as the turning point of the game. "As per the international standard manhandling means direct red card. But the referee showed only a yellow card. Had he seen the incident he should have been sent off or he should not have produced the card," Suwal said during the post match conference whose side had defeated NRT 5-0 in its first match. "The boys were tensed after the incident and could not come up with their natural show."
MMC player Sujal Shrestha scores goal. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
MMC coach Thapa who replaced Stephen promptly after the incident commented that he did not see the incident but said that if Stephen manhandled opponent player that was against the notion of fair play .
In the fast pace fairly balanced match, Sujal Shrestha put the MMC ahead in the 27th minute. Shrestha directed the ball towards net ahead from the goalline in pass by Bikash Singh Chhetri off Amir Shrestha corner.
Skipper Anil Gurung doubled the lead with a magnificent goal in the 56th minute. Gurung struck a stunning volley leaving advancing custodian Phul Bahadur Lama clueless about the ball.
"It was a classic goal and the best goal of the tournament so far," MMC coach Krishna Thapa said after the match. "To score in such speed was difficult although he had done that during training. I hope the goal has motivated Gurung who was unsuccessful to score for the team in previous matches."
MMC player Anil Gurung celebrates reacts after scoring goal against Nepal Army. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
Army also created a couple of scoring chances in both the halves but the poor finishing cost them dearly. National striker and new recruit of the departmental team was set up with any chance of scoring.
In the very second minute, Army failed to take the lead after Nawayug Shrestha failed to connect Tanka Banset cross after MMC´s African custodian Aqbolade Emmanuel Dare was beaten. In the 38th minute, Shrestha´s lob sailed above the bar. In the 66th minute Shrestha and Deep Lama could not connect a sitter from a close range. During the later stage, Shrestha again missed a chance.
Two matches will be held on Monday with Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club taking on Mahindra Bansbari FC in the first match and Bauddha FC will vie against Nepal Police Club in another match.