KATHMANDU, Dec 17: Nepali international Bharat Khawas achieved his first hat-trick in the ongoing league in Nepal Army Club´s 5-0 drubbing of Armed Police Force on Monday while New Road Team rode its luck again to defeat Simrik Saraswati Youth Club 4-1 in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League held at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
The wins lifted both NRT and Army three spots to fifth and sixth places respectively with 11 points each. However, NRT is ahead on the basis of head-to-head record with Army. APF dropped three spots to eighth with nine points and Saraswati slipped two spots to 10th with eight points.
In course of putting a brake on its departmental rival APF´s two-match winning streak, Army took an early third minute lead through Khawas who headed in custodian Bikram Gurung´s rebounder off Tanka Basnet´s powerful strike.
Khawas scored in an empty net from the edge to double the tally in the 16th minute. Khawas collected the ball after APF defenders stopped Tanka Basnet´s shot but failed to clear it as custodian Gurung was moving ahead. Khawas completed his hat-trick, the fifth of the league, during the hour mark when he flicked in Tek Bahadur Budhathoki´s pass from the 6-yard box.
With his three goals, Khawas took his tally in the league to five goals, three behind highest scorer Santosh Sahukhala of Three Star Club. Tanka Basnet made it 4-0 in the 76th minute when he sprinted with the ball before firing home from the area. Army sealed the huge victory in the first minute of stoppage time through Nawayug Shrestha.
Happy with his side´s win, Army coach Yogambar Suwal said his side was relieved of pressure after scoring an early goal. "Our training in the last couple of days bore fruit. This win has boosted our hopes of a super eight berth," said Suwal.
APF coach Janak Singh Tharu, pointing out the weaknesses in the defense, said, "I fielded Krishna Lama in place of Kovit Karki as he was injured, and that turned out to be our weak spot," said Tharu, adding, "We came under pressure after conceding early goals."
In another match, NRT´s African players netted three goals and assisted in as many goals in its third win over Saraswati Club. African players Akeen Oladimeji Babarurde opened the scoring and Sequn Akinade Eyitayo netted the last two goals.
Babarurde put NRT ahead in the 27th minute with a brilliant one-touch strike from the arch in Eyitayo´s pass. Skipper Laxman Ruchal doubled the tally in the 39th minute after a couple of passes with Eyitayo in the area.
Durga Lal Shrestha cut the goal deficit for Saraswati in the hour mark with a well-placed shot in Ramesh Tamang Ghising´s pass.
Eyitayo made it 3-1 through penalty in the 66th minute after Subash Gurung B was fouled in the area by Ramesh Dangal. Eyitayo sealed the victory in the last minute of three-minute stoppage time after beating an offside trap in a one-on-one with the custodian.
NRT coach Diken Suwal was not satisfied with his side´s performance despite the convincing win. "We could not perform in rhythm as we had done in the first and second matches of the league," said Suwal.
Saraswati coach Dhruba KC said his team lacked a forward as Yona Elias Ndabila was suspended after receiving three yellow cards. "We were under pressure due to lack of striker. But we still have a chance of making it to the top eight."
Meanwhile, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has called off Tuesday´s matches citing technical reasons. ANFA is holding its annual general assembly on Tuesday.
Saraswati breaches tournament regulations
KATHMANDU: Saraswati Club fielded its defender Michael Ntisefe in its seventh match of the league on Monday in breach of the Martyrs League tournament regulations that forbid a player from playing the immediate next match after receiving three yellow cards. The African player was shown his third yellow card of the league in its sixth match against Friends Club on Thursday.
The Senegalese defender was first booked in the match against MMC in the 50th minute, and received his second yellow card before the kick-off against Police as he entered the field despite not being included in the starting line-up. His third yellow card came in the team´s sixth match against Friends in the 65th minute. According to ANFA sources, it´s the responsibility of the match commissioner and referee assessor to check whether banned players are included in the line-up.