NPC pip Sahara on sudden death penalties, enter semis

- Pradeep Menyangbo, Dharan

Feb 12, 2019-

Five-time champions Nepal Police Club (NPC) beat Sahara Club of Pokhara in sudden death penalty shootout to secure a semi-final berth of the Budha Subba Gold Cup football tournament on Monday.

The match was pushed to sudden death penalties after the regulation 90 minutes of play finished on 1-1 deadlock and the tiebreaker also ended in a 3-3 stalemate. While Bharat Shah converted his shot for departmental team in the sudden death, Anjan Devkota ended up firing off target handing NPC a semi-final berth. NPC will take on the winners of the match between Nepal APF Club and Dauphins Family of Cameroon on Friday.  

NPC, one of the most successful teams of the tournament, failed to live up to expectations and came under pressure. In the eighth minute, Sushil Lama’s strike in Tanka Gurung pass went off target and a minute later Sahara custodian Lucky Karki had not trouble getting hold of a weak Shah shot. NPC came closer to scoring in the 19th minute only for Shahid of Sahara to clear Nir Kumar Rai’s goal-bound strike.

Rai broke the deadlock for the departmental team in the 33rd minute capitalising on a pass from Rabi Paswan. Sahara survived yet another scare in the 40th minute only for their custodian Karki to deny Tirtha Rana Magar in one-versus-one situation.

In the 60th minute NPC custodian Satrudhan Chaudhary denied Bishwa Adhikari’s freekick and moments later NPC’s Devendra Tamang cleared Lama’s attempt on goal.

Sahara restored parity in the 84th minute through penalty after Ajit Bhandari handled the ball inside the area. Adhikari converted the resulting penalty pushing the match straight to penalty shootout.  In the penalty shootout Bhandari, Tamang and Suman Subedi converted their shots while Tej Tamanga and Hari Kathayat failed to score. Adhikari, Binod Gurung and Janak Karki scored while Gobin Thapa and Ramesh Thapa failed to hit on the target for Sahara. In the sudden death, Shah scored for NPC but Anjan Devkota shot off target.  

NPC coach Ananta Raj Thapa was dissatisfied by his team’s performance and urged his team to improve. “Despite playing better than Sahara, we failed to create enough scoring chances. We have to lift our game in our next games,” said Thapa who had guided the team to the title of Khaptad Gold Cup in Dhangadhi on January 19. Sahara coach Praladh Hirachan rued on the missed chances.

Earlier, Sankata Club defeated Mechi Netralaya Kakarvitta in sudden death penalties to book a semi-final place in a continuation of the match which was stopped due to bad light on Sunday. Amit Tamang and Cedric Aba bottom netted from spots for Sankata while Pujan Uparkoti netted for Kakarvitta but Dilen Loktan miss out. On Sunday, the regulation period had finished on 2-2 draw and tiebreaker had also failed to break the deadlock before darkness forced the match to be halted.   

Hosts Dharan Football Club will lock horns against Dalhousie Athletic Club of Kolkata on Tuesday.

Published: 12-02-2019 11:19

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