February 22, 2017 09:10 PM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
Players of CMG Club Sankata (blue) and Agni Rupandehi XI in action during their match of the 19th Budhasubba Redbull Gold Cup football tournament in Dharan, Sunsari on Wednesday.
DHARAN, Feb 22: A double from Anil Gurung steered CMG Club Sankata into the final of Budhasubba Red Bull Gold Cup football tournament on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Agni Rupandehi XI in the first semifinal held at the ANFA Technical Center in Dharan.
Sankata, which made it to the final of the tournament for the first time in the 19th edition, will take on the winner of the second semifinal between host Dharan Blue and Nepal Police Club in the summit clash on Saturday. The second semifinal will be played on Thursday. Sankata, which has claimed titles of Bikash Running Shield in Narayanghat and Simara Gold Cup in Simara in the current season, is enjoying its best form.
The competitive match saw Sankata taking the driving seat in the 23rd minute. Sankata made a light work for the opening goal when the advancing goalie Dilip Chhetri was beaten as Anil was sprinting with the ball after collecting a pass from Sajin Thapa.
Dipak Rai restored parity for Rupandehi two minute before the interval. He fired at the far post after collecting Amar Dangol's pass to stun Sankata goalie Binay Shrestha.
As the match was seemingly heading to penalty shootout, Anil scored in the later stage from the spot which turned out to be the decisive goal. He netted in the 80th minute after Dipes Shrestha was brought down in the danger zone by Saurav Magar prompting referee Nabindra Maharjan to award the penalty. Anil was later declared the man-of-the-match.
Earlier, Sankata squandered numerous scoring chances with the first one coming on the very third minute. Ajayi Martins shot high above the bar after Rupandehi goalie Dilip was already beaten. Few moments later, Raj Paudel headed off the target in Sushil KC's pass. Sushil's twin attempts in the 27th and 40th minute could not find the back of the net.
Sankata resorted to aggressive style of play in the second half to pile more pressure on Rupandehi.
Three minutes after the interval, glovesman Dilip punched Sushil's strike to safety and eight minutes later African player Lawal Olalekon smashed into the bar. In the 75th minute, Dilip punched Sajin Thapa's scorcher to safety and four minutes later Anil squandered a scoring chance in a one-on-one situation with opponent goalie.
Rupandehi wasted scoring chance in the 15th minute when Shiva Subedi delayed in collecting Narendra Limbu's pass providing time for opponents to clear it. Three minutes later, custodian Binay denied Laxman Ruchal's strike. In the second half, Rupandehi however came under pressure and failed to come up with remarkable attempts on goal.
Sankata coach Salyan Khadgi lauded his player after the match stating that the match went as per the game plan. “The boys played as per the game plan and the outcome was as expected,” he Khadgi, who also expressed dissatisfaction about the referee decision. “The referee should have shown straight red card for intentional tackle, but he did not do so.”
Rupandehi coach Dayaram Sapkota pointed to the penalty awarded to the opponent as the turning point of match and termed the game as an evenly-contested affair. “We came under pressure after the break due to flaws in the midfield,” he said.