Prakash Budathoki (L) of Three Star Club and Tanka Bansent of Tribhuvan Army Club in action during a friendly match at the ANFA ground in Satdobato, Lalitpur on Sunday. Photo Courtesy: Anfa
KATHMANDU, Aug 8: A last-gasp equalizer from Nawayug Shrestha for Tribhuvan Army Club held Ruslan Three Star Club to a 1-1 in a friendly match at ANFA Complex, Satdobato on Sunday. The match was held as a preparation for the AFC Cup Playoff Qualifiers.
Army's Nawayug Shrestha cancelled Martin's early goal in the stoppage time. He fired from close range capitalizing on the misunderstanding between Three Star defender Peter Segun and goalkeeper Allen Neupane.
Nigerian striker Martin had put the national champion ahead in the first half but Three Star was denied of second victory in a row two days after a thumping 5-0 win over Armed Police Force.
Three Star head coach Megh Raj KC opted to make a change in his starting eleven line-up, bringing in experienced Bishnu Sunuwar in place of Devendra Tamang. Once again, Asim Jung Karki was paired with Nigerian Martin upfront in a 4-4-2 formation.
Three Star made a solid start after Martin finished brilliantly in the fourth minute utilizing Saroj Dahal's long pass. Three Star started to increase the pressure on the departmental opponent making some good moves with exchange of the short passes between Asim, Martin and Buddha Chemjong.
Army's first attack came in the 10th minute when skipper Bharat Khawas ended up firing wide from close range. Army's best chance came in the 26th minute with Nawayug heading equalizer, which was ruled as offside. Bharat fed the ball to Tek Bahadur Budhathoki from the center, who crossed it on to Nawayug's path for the header.
Both teams made some good moves in the first half but failed to convert them into goal.
Army started the second half intensely, with its front line piling consistent pressure on the opponent defenders and goalkeeper but lack of good linkup between Bharat and Nawayug saw the chances wasted.
The league champion was denied a golden chance to double its tally four minutes from time after Army's debutant central defender Suman Aryal made a goalline clearance.
Three Star head coach KC said that the friendly matches have exposed their weaknesses and shown areas for improvement. “These friendly matches have given me ideas about my players' strength - the players capable for playing whole 90 minutes. Now we will focus on power training to improve their physical condition,” said KC after the match.
“We also know this level of performance won't help us to progress to the next round in the AFC Cup Playoff Qualifiers, so we need to work on our weaknesses,” added KC.
Three key players Bikram Lama, Sunil Bal and Devendra Tamang were rested Sunday due to injury concerns. But they will join the training on Monday.
Army head coach Nabin Neupane has said that he has taken the match to assess his players' fitness level. “It's been just three weeks since I started to look after this team. So I am still monitoring the fitness level of my players,” said former national player Neupane.
“We are taking part in the Nepal Cup to be held in Chitwan, so this is also a preparation match for us,” added Neupane.
National league winner Ruslan Three Star is leaving for Mongolia on August 16 to take part in the AFC Cup Playoff Qualifiers.