KATHMANDU, Dec 6: Title contender Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) was held to a 0-0 draw by NIBL Friends Club on Thursday, while Nepali international Bharat Khawas scored a brace for Nepal Army Club in its 3-1 win over Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League being held at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
The result, a big blow to the six time league champion, left MMC two points behind the leader Machhindra after playing four matches with equal eight points.
Whichever team among McDowell´s RCT and Three Star wins the match on Friday could confirm its place for second spot.
Meanwhile, departmental team Army climbed five spots up to fifth in its second win which saw Nepal international Bharat Khawas end his goal drought with twin goals. Army has equal seven points as that of fourth and sixth placed NRT and RCT. Jawalakhel is in eighth place with six points.
Anil Gurung of MMC tries to control ball. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
Title favorite MMC, with three Nepali international and four African players, failed to achieve the target despite piling up immense pressure against Friends, which features Three Nepali international, including skipper Sagar Thapa and two African players.
MMC, unbeaten in the league, missed as many as half a dozen chances despite creating dangerous moves. "We missed a lot of chances; at least five clear scoring chances that denied us a win," said Krishna Thapa, MMC coach.
MMC piled up immense pressure but failed to achieve the target. Sulav Maskey, African player Fils Sergio Chico, skipper Sagar Thapa and Shiva Shrestha all were unsuccessful in their attempts at scoring.
Nepal´s and Friend´s captain Sagar Thapa prevented MMC from taking the lead in the 40th minute when he headed to stop Shiva Shrestha from scoring a goal bound header while the goalie Bashir was already beaten. Chico failed to achieve the target despite three attempts on post.
From the 40th to 45th minute, Friends made three attempts at post but all were unsuccessful. In the 40th minute, MMC´s Mbile Leonel made a goal line clearance to prevent Ritesh Malla´s strike from the open net.
Two minutes later, Sulav Maskey again headed in similar fashion to prevent Dodoz header. In the 43rd minute, Malla was denied in one-versus-one situation by goalie Emmanuel Dora. The goalie again prevented Prakash Budhathoi´s header in the 58th minute.
Friends coach was happy with his team´s draw with the title contender. "We achieved our target and the team is improving gradually," said Gurung and added that the results shall boost his team´s morale for the next match.
In the day´s late kick off, Deep Lama gave an early lead to Army. The ball supplied by Nawayug Shrestha entered the net hitting the pole. Bharat Khawas doubled the tally beating the goalie in a through pass of Tek Bahadur Budhathoki. Khawas, made it 3-0 from the area after playing a couple of attractive passes with Deep Lama.
Jawalakhel that made only one post attempt hit back the consolation during last minute of the match. Bashir Shah scored after substitute John Dike´s strike rebounded off the pole.
Army´s coach Yogamber Suwal said that his team was set on the victory path after scoring an early goal. "We were discouraged after failing to win our first two matches. But we have got our rhythm back. The win shall boost our morale for upcoming matches."
Jawalakhel coach Kishor KC said that his team had a draw in mind instead of a win.
Friday´s matches Three Star Vs NRT @ 12:30 NST
Himalayan Sherpa Vs RCT @ 14:30 NST