Three Star´s position as leader confirmed at the end of first round
KATHMANDU, Jan 19: Relegation battler Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club confirmed its place in the A division following a stunning 3-2 win over the title contender NMB Bank Machhindra Club on Saturday in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League.
The Sherpa´s win has helped the leader Three Star retain its status at the top of the points table at the end of first round.
With a match to spare before the completion of first round, Sherpa with 19 points climbed one spot to the 10th position and also prevented third placed Machhindra to move on to the second and narrow down its gap with the leader Three Star. The result meant Three Star could finish on top of the table despite any outcome in its last match to be played against MMC.
Leader Three Star has 32 points while second and third placed RCT and Machhindra each has 26 points after playing equal 14 matches. Fourth placed MMC with 25 points is yet to play two matches. However, MMC could only finish second if it wins both of its remaining matches. MMC is scheduled to play against Nepal Police Club on Sunday and Three Star in the last league match on Friday.
In the dramatic match of the day, Jas Bahadur Rai, Rupesh KC and Samuel Mubiro scored one each for Sherpa to inflict fourth defeat in overall and second in a row to Machhindra. Bishal Rai A and skipper Deepak Rai were on target for Machhindra.
After conforming his side´s status on the top tier football, Machhindra coach Meghraj KC insisted that Sherpa was not the team to relegate. "The team showed its real game today," delighted coach KC said. "Sherpa was never a weak team. I think we did not prepare well before the league began."
Jas Bahadur Sherpa gave an early sixth minute lead to Sherpa that got restricted to 10-man for the last five minutes. Rai scored from the six yard box collecting a ball cleared by Bikram Limbu from the goalline off Hope Rally strike. Nigerian recruit Rally who contributed for first two goals was sent off in the second minute of the stoppage time after referee Bikash Malla flashed second yellow card against him for using hand to control ball in Machhindra´s danger zone.
Bishal Rai A equalized for Machhindra in the 27th minute and skipper Deepak made it 2-1 eight minutes later. Rai A canceled the lead with a header in Bikram Limbu cross from the left flank. Skipper Rai also scored in similar fashion in a cross set by Bobby Ogolla from the right side. It was the seventh goal of the skipper and sixth of Rai A. Saraswati´s Yona Elias Ndabila leads the scorer list with 16 goals.
Machhindra´s lead did not last for long period as Rupesh KC made it 2-2 before the interval through a spotkick. KC converted the penalty awarded in the 43rd minute after defender Amar Subba brought down Hope Rally in the danger zone.
Samuel Mubiru headed the winning goal for Sherpa four minutes into second half. The Ugandan player flick headed a corner taken by Ganesh Khadka. Machhindra was near to leveling score in the 58th minute, but skipper Rai´s powerful shot from the area hit the woodwork following deflection at an opponent player.
Machhindra coach Raju Shakya opined that despite impressive comeback, his side conceded last goal due to weak marking in the second half. He also pointed out lack of strength among player in the long run. "There had high expectation from the team based on the results of initial rounds," said Shakya.