APF advances to semifinal

Published On: January 4, 2017 09:14 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

JHAPA, Jan 4:The semifinal lineup of the ongoing Mechi Netralaya Gold Cup has been completed after Armed Police Force (APF) became the fourth team to book its place in the last four on Tuesday. 

In the last quarterfinal match of the tournament played in Kakarbhitta, Hari Karki’s goal in the first half was sufficient to send the departmental side to the last four at the expense of Sankata Club.

 Earlier, Jhapa XI, host Kakrbhitta Football Training Center and Rupandehi XI had advanced to the semifinals. 

In the last quarterfinal match played in Kakarbhitta, APF was on the pitch without its key players including Anjan Bista, Ranjan Bista, Rajendra Rawal and Aditya Chaudhary. These national players failed to make a place in APF’s playing XI due to injury. 

APF went ahead in the game in the 17th minute with Hari Karki’s goal which also became the only goal of the match.  Man-of-the-match Hari utilized a cross from Top Bista before firing it to the opponent’s net from 18 yards. Hari was successful to fill the void left by the absence of APF’s key forwards including Anjan Bista and Ranjan Bista as drove the departmental side’s attack by creating numerous goal scoring chances on his own.

However, the heroic saves from Sankata’s goalkeeper Binay Shrestha prevented Hari from adding more goals. 

A minute before the goal, APF had a chance to lead the game when Nabin Lama got an opportunity to attempt a free header utilizing a pass from Sudip Sikhrakar but Sankata goalie denied the shot. 

The win over Sankata on Tuesday, helped APF forget the defeat it had suffered in Hetauda Gold Cup against Manang Marsyangdi on Sunday. Sankata, which had fielded players including Rabi Silwal, Nirajan Khadka, Amit Tamang, Bishwa Adhikari, Sabin Khadka and three other foreign recruits couldn’t create much chances in the game. 

Earlier Sankata’s notable goal scoring chance came in the 24th minute when Sunil Bal charged the ball from the edge of the penalty box but APF’s goalkeeper Raju Yogi made a brilliant save. 

 APF’s head coach Ratna Kaji Maharjan expressed his happiness after the match. “We faced defeat in Hetauda Gold Cup despite having highly motivated squad after winning the Surunga Gold Cup in Jhapa last month. So we were in pressure to re-capture the winning ways in this tournament,” said Maharjan, adding, “Sankata is a very tough opponent with some very good players but we managed to win.” He also said that his team missed its key players who are out due to injury. 

In the meantime, Sankata’s head coach Sagun Khadgi said that failing to gather good players for the team made his team weak, which eventually affected the team’s performance.  “This tournament and Hetauda Gold Cup are being organized at the same time. That’s why the players are scattered as our club is participating in both the tournaments and it affected us,” said Khadgi. 

Now, the first semifinal of the tournament will be played between Jhapa XI and Rupandehi XI on Wednesday while in second semifinal clash host Kakarbhitta Football Training Center will take on APF on Thursday.

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