KATHMANDU, Dec 30: There was a little expectation that the contenders Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) and Three Star Club would fare properly without some known names in Nepali football.
After selling most of their star players to Machhindra Club in the closed-season, many doubted if the big two would still keep dominating Nepali football. The question has been answered after the first three rounds as both of the teams are unbeaten and still to concede a single goal.
They have shaped up this league allowing no team a privilege to outclass or outmaneuver them. At the end of the third round, both teams were able to register 1-0 wins. Manang won all three matches, while Three Star won two and drew one.
There was no contrast for the teams as each of them was able to beat two out of the three departmental teams.
Manang defeated Armed Police Force (APF) Club 2-0 in the first game of its league season, and went on to beat Tribhuvan Army Club 1-0 in the second. Likewise, Three Star saw off Nepal Police Club 1-0 in its second match, and got the better of APF with a 1-0 win again.
With the fourth round matches set to start from Monday, there will be anticipation among the fans whether Three Star could beat Army on Wednesday and keep up its momentum going.
The fourth round will see another title contender Machhindra Club, who bought 11 players from Manang and Three Star, take on New Road Team, who is also high with confidence after two wins in the three league games.
Both Machhindra and NRT will fancy the meeting as they were the last two teams of the last season and had their two and one points deducted for finishing 13th and 14th respectively. Machhindra, despite winning two and drawing one, has six points, while NRT, after two wins and a loss, has four points.
In the other match, Manang will face the least trickier task compared to what it has faced in the last three games as it takes on Friends Club, who is yet to register a point this season.
Friends, who started with a 2-1 loss to Army in its first match, went from bad to worse with a 2-0 defeat to Brigade Boys Club and a 3-0 humiliation to Machhindra.
The first win for the team seems unlikely as the defending champion is cruising with confidence and also has its morale boosted as Anjan Bista’s suspension was reduced from 90 days to 45 recently.
Chyasal will be hoping to recover from a shocking 2-1 defeat at the hands of NRT, and will want to bounce back against a tough Jawalakhel Youth Club, who is also one of the unbeaten teams in the league.
Chyasal, despite winning the first game 2-0 against last season’s runner-up Sankata Club, failed to register wins in the last two. Jawalakhel, however, drew against Three Star and Sankata Club.
In the other game on that day, Sankata Club and the other departmental team Nepal Police Club will go against each other looking for their second wins. Both the teams have won one, drawn one and lost one.
Army will go head to head against Three Star in the pick of the third round matches. Army, who defeated Himalayan Sherpa Club 2-0 to recover from Manang loss in the second round, will want to win against a title contender and re-establish its intent as a challenger.
Himalayan Sherpa is winless after two draws against Police and APF.
The last match of the league will be interesting as Saraswati Youth Club will play against APF, as both the teams are looking for their first win of the season. Saraswati lost all three games without scoring a single goal, while APF has a point from a draw and has lost twice.
All the matches are scheduled to be held at the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Complex.