KATHMANDU, Sept 25: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club on Tuesday qualified for the quarterfinal at the expense of New Road Team (NRT) which crashed out of the Ncell Cup Football Championship.
NRT suffered second defeat in a row after going down 2-1 against Machhindra Club paving the way for leader MMC to secure a place in the knockout stage from group B. With a match each in hand, NRT became first team to crash out and MMC to progress in the next stage.
Leader MMC which will lock horns with NRT in its next match has six points while the latter is at the bottom of the points table. Second placed Army and third placed Machhindra have three points each. Army and Machhindra will play their last group match for a place in the next round.
Machhindra came from a goal deficit to equalize the match in the second half and hit the winner in the dying moments to emerge a strong contender for the quarterfinal.
Karna Limbu netted the winner in the second minute of the three minute stoppage time. Limbu got the ball ahead of goalline after the advancing NRT custodian Raju Yogi was chipped by Deepak Gurung which rebounded off the bar.
Earlier, NRT had taken lead in the 19th minute through Sushil KC in glovesman Dinesh Thapa Magar´s rebounder off Dipen Rai who dribbled past three defenders but failed to beat the goalie.
Machhindra´s quest of hitting the equalizer was fulfilled in the 53rd minute after Deepak Rai´s 25-yard freekick got the back of net.
NRT´s performance was lackluster and could not make more than a couple of post attacks. Machhindra created as many as four chances. Bishal Rai B and Karna Limbu´s post charge after the interval was denied by goalie Raju Yogi.
"Though it´s not easy to make it into the quarterfinal the win has increased our chances," Machhindra coach Prakash Baidhya said during the post match conference, adding, the win in the 50/50 match had delighted the team. "We got more chances but also missed them."
NRT coach Raju Shakya said, "The boys made big mistakes as they did not implement what they were trained to do," Shakya said. "They also lacked experience as they are young and immature."
Madhyapur clinches first win
Iceberg Madhyapur Youth Association clinched its first win in the top flight football on Tuesday making group A evenly poised. Madhyapur defeated Armed Police Force (APF) 1-0 to achieve its first win playing its third match in the top tier football.
The win lifted Madhyapur to the top of the table with four points after the completion of round two. APF and Friends with one win each are in the second and third position on the basis of head to head record. Three Star is at the bottom of the table with one point. Now all four teams have chances of making it into the next stage.
Three Star will meet APF in the next match of the group while Friends will lock horns with Madhyapur.
Substitute Nirajan Rayamajhi headed the lone goal in the 27th minute which turned out to be the match decider. Rayamajhi, 16th minute replacement for Bal Gopal Sahukhala headed in a freekick taken by Raj Kumar Ghising after he was left unmarked.
Not only Rayamajhi´s goal, but also a couple of heroic saves from Madhyapur goalie Bikesh Kutu was remarkable in the victory. Kutu made a brilliant dive to deny a low ball strike from Ganesh Lawati in the 54th minute. Six minutes later, Kutu again made a valiant save to prevent Krishna Lama´s strike taken from the edge. In the 76th minute, Lawati´s 25 yard freekick sailed inches above the bar.
The only other scoring opportunity for Madhyapur came in the stoppage time but Raj Kumar Ghising´s close range strike was denied by APF custodian Samit Rajbhandari.
Madhyapur coach Upendraman Singh, also the former custodian of Nepali national team lauded the goalkeeper´s performance. "Goalkeeper made many attractive saves and boosted the team´s morale," Singh said, adding, "The boys fulfilled their duty very well. But the team still needs more experience."
APF coach Janak Singh Tharu lamented the absence of skipper and center midfielder Kumar Thapa. "We missed Kumar Thapa very much today," Tharu said, "The equation is now open to all."
Points Table Group A
Teams P W D L GF GA Pts
Madhyapur 2 1 1 0 2 1 4
APF 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
Friends 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
Three Star 2 0 1 1 1 2 1
Team P W D L GF GA Pts
MMC 2 2 0 0 4 1 6
Army 2 1 0 1 5 2 3
Machhindra 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
NRT 2 0 0 2 1 7 0