POKHARA, Jan 28: Three Star Club defeated McDowell´s Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) 5-3 in tie-breaker on Monday to book a berth in the semifinals of Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament being held in Pokhara, Kaski.
Three Star players converted all five penalties in the tie-breaker while Raj Kumar Ghising, who had earlier scored the equalizer for RCT in the regulation time, missed his spotkick. Ghising´s penalty rebounded off custodian Alan Neupane´s leg.
The match was taken to penalties after the regulation time ended in a 1-1 draw and extra time failed to produce any goals. League leader Three Star´s African player Adewumi Femi, Jeevan Sinkeman, Balgopal Sahukhala, Rabi Thapa and Abio Dun Ibrahim converted for the Lalitpur-based side while Ntolo Ngoumou, Yugal Kishor Rai and Krishna Kunwar achieved the target for RCT.
Three Star, which had lost 1-0 to RCT during their last meeting in the A division league on January 6, will now take on Jawalakhel Youth Club in the semifinal. Coincidentally, RCT´s Ntolo Ngoumou had scored the winning goal through penalty in the league.
Earlier, Femi had put Three Star ahead in the 18th minute capitalizing on a defensive error by Sanjiv Budhathoki.
Ghising cancelled Three Star´s lead in the 62nd minute as he struck home in Yugal Kishor Rai´s pass after the goalie Neupane was already beaten.
RCT created numerous chances compared to Three Star but failed to convert them. RCT was unfortunate not to double the advantage in the 68th minute when Dipesh Thapa Magar´s powerful shot from 20 yards rebounded off the bar. In the 85th, Aditya Chaudhary of Three Star cleared Thapa Magar´s shot.
In the 11th minute of added half hour, Three Star´s defender Bishnu Sunuwar denied Thapa Magar´s goal-bound shot. Sunwar was later declared the man-of-the-match. During the fading moments, LM Bambo´s shot in Yugal Kishor Rai´s corner rebounded off Ngoumou.
RCT coach Madhu Karki said his side was punished for its failure to utilize scoring chances. Karki, however, said he was satisfied with his side´s performance. "We were defeated despite putting in a lot of effort and we missed scoring chances after scoring the equalizer."
Cellin Michel´s sixth-minute strike from the area was denied by RCT´s veteran custodian Dilip Chhetri. During the half-hour mark, Bishnu Gurung´s header in Jeevan Sinkeman´s freekick went off the target.
Three Star coach Pradip Humagain opined that his side came up with an impressive show despite the absence of eight key players who are undergoing training for the national squad. However, Three Star had fielded two players -- Jeevan Sinkeman and Bal Gopal Sahukhala -- from other teams. "Despite scoring the first goal the players could not coordinate properly due to change in team formation," Humagain said.
Host Sahara Club of Pokhara will play against Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) on Tuesday.