This is Army´s first win over its departmental rival in nearly one-and-half decades
POKHARA, Jan 27: Departmental team Nepal Army Club ended its long wait for victory over arch rival Nepal Police Club on Sunday with a 1-0 win in the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament in Pokhara.
Bikarna Shrestha scored the only goal of the match to help Army defeat its departmental rival for the first time in nearly a decade and half and also send his team through to the semifinals of the tournament. The last time Army had defeated Police was during the fourth National Games in Nepalgunj in 2055 BS.
Army coach Saila Maharjan was delighted with the victory and said the win was possible due to the players´ hard work. "We had defeated Police during the Khukuri Cup at the same venue in 2054 BS and we achieved victory today after nearly one and half decades due to the hard work of the players."
Police was without six regular members of the squad while Army was without four players who have been called up for the initial phase training of the national team for AFC Challenge Cup Group D qualifiers to be held in Kathmandu from March 2 to 6.
Army had to wait until the 85th minute to achieve the victory despite piling up consistent pressure from the early stages. Bikarna Shrestha, a 43rd minute replacement for Bishwa Bairag Samal, scored in a cross from Santosh Nepali while Police custodian Bishal Shretha was already beaten. Shrestha was later named the man-of-the-match.
Army will meet the winner of the match between host Sahara FC and MMC to be played on Tuesday.
Army created over half-a-dozen scoring chances. In the 28th minute, Hari Mahato beat three defenders and shot at the far post but it went off the target. Santosh Nepali squandered three chances early in the second half. Four minutes into the second half, Nepali´s shot at the far post went wide. In the 51st minute, Nepali again fired above the bar in Shrestha´s cross. During the hour mark, Nepali´s header in Mahendra Khawas´ freekick failed to find the target.
Police, on the other hand, could not pose a threat to Army. In the 17th minute, skipper Parbat Pandey´s freekick was denied by Army custodian Gangaram Dejua.
Police coach Hari Khadka attributed the defeat to absence of six key players of the squad and injury of defender Ajit Bhandari. "We had a few opportunities but failed to convert them while Army succeeded," said Khadka, who was full of praise for the opposition. "Army has improved a lot in recent days and is getting better."