Saraswati edges RCT in thriller with Mdabela hat-trick
KATHMANDU, Jan 16: Yona Elias Mdabela continued his impressive form in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League as he scored a hat-trick to guide Simrik Saraswati Club to a thrilling 4-3 victory over McDowell´s Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) on Wednesday.
Mdabela, who scored six goals against Mahindra Bansbari in his side´s previous league match, scored a hat-trick against RCT on Wednesday and dented the latter´s hopes of leading the points table.
Following the defeat, RCT is in the second position with 26 points from 14 matches while leader Three Star Club has 29 points from 13 matches.
With nine goals in the last two matches, Yona is on top of the goalscorers list with 16 goals.
Saraswati, which has already defeated leader Three Star Club and third-placed NMB Machhindra Club, piled pressure on second-placed RCT early in the first half with a 2-0 lead within 21 minutes.
RCT vs Saraswati Club. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
Rajendra Tamang opened the scoring from the left flank beating as many as three defenders in the 18th minute. Mdabela doubled the lead three minutes later. He scored from the box in Geofrey Bonny´s pass.
In the injury time of first half, Saraswati captain Michael Mtisefe conceded an own goal in his attempt to stop Yugal Kishor Rai´s cross.
Mdabela scored his second goal in the 48th minute to widen the lead to 3-1. An unmarked Mdabela headed into an open net as he met Olawale Usman´s cross in the danger zone.
RCT added two goals in the span of seven minutes to level the scores at 3-3. Pradip Malla scored the second RCT goal with a one-touch strike from the edge of the danger area in the 57th minute and Bhim Darlami, who was left unmarked in the danger area, tapped a pass from Yugal Kishor Rai in the 64th minute.
Mdabila of Saraswati Club reacts after scoring. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
However, Mdabela not only completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute but also sealed the victory for Saraswati. He rushed to the danger area and scored with a cool finish from the area after receiving a through ball from Geofrey.
"Yona is the best forward among the foreign players in the league," said Saraswati coach Dhruba KC. "We are achieving success because of teamwork since rest of the players in our team are average," he added.
"We lost a few matches in the middle but we never got frustrated," said KC. "We initially had a target of avoiding relegation but we expect to enter the super eight round now," he added.
RCT coach Baiju Kapali said his defense line flopped in the match and the midfield could not hold the game. However, Kapali, also accused the referee of bias against his club.
RCT vs Saraswati Club. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
Following the win, Saraswati moved up to sixth position with 23 points from 14 matches dashing defending champion Nepal Police Club´s hopes of qualifying for the super eight round. Police is in the ninth position with 19 points from 13 matches. Army Club and Friends Club have 22 and 21 points respectively from 13 matches.
NRT adds to APF´s woes
In the day´s early kick-off, New Road Team (NRT) beat relegation-threatened Armed Police Force (APF) 2-1. Following the win, NRT has almost confirmed its place in the super eight round.
APF, which had to replace captain Kumar Thapa with Jibesh Pandey early in the first half after Thapa picked injury, remained a goal down in the first half. Akeen O Babatunde headed home in a Laxman Ruchal´s corner in the 41st minute to provide a 1-0 lead to NRT.
Ganesh Lawati leveled the scores with a cool finish in a one-on-one with NRT goalkeeper Raju Yogi in an acute pass from Santosh Shrestha in the 49th minute.
However, NRT captain Ruchal restored the lead in the 52nd minute through a free-kick from 20 yards.
Earlier in the first half, NRT goalkeeper Yogi denied Shyam Nepali in the 31st minute while Nepali fired inches wide from the edge in the 42nd minute.
NRT coach Diken Suwal said his side added important three points despite failing to put up a good show.
His counterpart Janak Singh said his side conceded goals in dead balls because of the goalkeeper´s mistake and could not convert chances on their part. "We are still under relegation threat but we´ll give our best to avoid it," said Singh.
APF is in the 12th position with 15 points from 14 matches while Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club has 14 points from 13 matches and Iceberg Madhyapur Youth Association has 10 points from 13 matches.
With the win, NRT moved up to the fifth position with 25 points from 14 matches. Fourth-placed Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club also has 25 points from 13 matches.
Friends Vs Bansbari @ 12:30 NST
Army Vs Bauddha @ 14:30 NST