Machhindra guns down Army, moves three points clear
KATHMANDU, Dec 13: Leader NMB Bank Machhindra Club continued with its dream run in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League after skipper Deepak Rai´s lone goal sealed 1-0 win over Nepal Army Club on Thursday at the Dasharath Stadium.
Rai struck winner in the 64th minute to take his side three points clear at the top of the points table maintaining its unbeaten run. Rai unleashed a powerful strike from the area to score his fourth goal of the league with only goalie Ganga Ram Deuja as obstacle on his way.
Rai was supplied an acute pass of Bishal Rai A who was replaced during stoppage time owing to injury.
Machhindra Club vs Nepal Army (Photo: Bikash Karki)
With the win, unbeaten Machhindra strengthened its grip at the top of table with 16 points, three points ahead of second-placed RCT which has a match advantage over the former. RCT could level points with the leader if its beats Madhyapur on Friday. Army dropped a spot below to seven with eight points.
"The title will certainly be ours if we move ahead with same pace in the future," said Machhindra coach Raju Shakya. "But we are still to play the likes of strong team like MMC, Three Star and NRT."
In the entertaining match from start to finish, Army dominated the ball possession in initial period of first half but failed to create much trouble for Machhindra goalie Dinesh Thapa Magar. The only dangerous move from Army came in the 27th minute but Tanka Basnet´s powerful shot from the area was denied by custodian Thapa Magar.
"Army plays high-speed game and it was our mistake to play in their speed," coach Shakya said adding his wingers failed to perform as per expectations.
Machhindra replied with as many as three attacks during the later stage of the first half. Skipper Rai was unlucky not to find the back of the net in the 38th minute as his 35 yard free kick hit the upright. Three minutes later Rai A fired inches above bar.
Machhindra Club players celebrate goal. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
In the 50th minute, Army´s Tanka Basnet´s strike from the edge sailed inches above bar from the area while Deep Lama headed wide in the 71st minute in Basnet cross.
Machhindra could have doubled the advantage in the 81st minute but Rai A hit the woodwork from the close range in Karna Limbu´s brilliant cross.
Army coach Yogambar Suwal commented that his side has problem in finishing. "I hope the finishing problem shall improve. We also failed to penetrate ball and defender Jeetendra Karki´s absence cost the team dearly." Karki could not play the match due to three yellow cards.
Friends, Saraswati share points
National players studded NIBL Friends Club was forced to 1-1 comeback draw by minnow Simrik Saraswati Youth Club during the day´s kick off match.
With only one win in its account Friends dropped two spots below to 12th position. Friends have six points after third draw. With eight points, Saraswati climbed two spots up to eighth.
Saraswati took lead in the 58th minute through its skipper Ramesh Tamang Ghising against Friends that looked lackluster. In the course of scoring his third league goal Tamang Ghising made a powerful strike from area to beat the African goalie Bhasir after diffusing the offside trap.
Former Nepali international Jagjeet Shrestha equalized in the 66th minute when his 25 yard freekick entered left top of the post after a bounce in the area.
Against the predictions of many Saraswati dominated the first half of the match and made a couple of post attack. Ganesh BK and African player Olawale Usman Olumide were unsuccessful for Saraswati in the first half. Nine minutes into the second half Yona Elias Ndabila´s low ball shot was denied by long stretch diving goalie Bhasir.
Friends could not create any dangerous move in the first half. Nirajan Khadka squandered a scoring chance in the 70th minute when he headed above bar from the six-yard box in diving glovesman Ashok Baral´s rebounder of scorer Shrestha. The goalie was yet to recover. In the 83rd minute Santosh Tamang´s goal for Friends was ruled as offside.
Friends coach Dil Kaji Gurung once again blamed match referee Bikash Mahat as one of the causes of his defeat. "The clubs are making huge investments and a silly mistakes of referee cost the team dearly. The club may rethink its investment in football if referee continue with such mistakes."
Saraswati coach Dhurba KC said his team failed in its target of achieving three points. KC also defended referees performance. "As referees are also human beings they may unknowingly commit mistakes."