Republica Players of Tribhuvan Army Club (L) and Nepal Police Club in action during their semifinal match of the Mai Valley Gold Cup Football Tournament in Ilam on Wednesday.
ILAM, April 5: Tribhuvan Army Club has reached the final of the ongoing Mai Valley Gold Cup Football Tournament registering 2-0 victory over Nepal Police Club in the semifinal on Wednesday. One goal each from Tanka Basnet and Santosh Tamang helped Army book its place in the summit clash overcoming departmental rival Police.
Army will now take on the winner between Rumpum Jhapa XI and Armed Police Force (APF) in the summit clash on Saturday.
In the first semifinal clash of the tournament played at Ilam's tundikhel, Tanka Basnet gave lead to Army scoring the opener in the 41st minute. Tanka scored a brilliant header utilizing a pass from Bibek Basnet. Winger Bibek created the scoring chance for Tanka collecting a rebounder off Police's goalkeeper Roshan Khadka who failed to clear a free-kick from Army's Jitendra Karki.
Police, which was under pressure in the match after trailing down by a goal, was limited to ten players after Hem Tamang was given the marching order in the 70th minute after committing a foul on Army's Rajiv Gurung. Capitalizing on the situation, Army then extended its lead in the 73rd minute with Santosh Tamang's goal. Midfielder Santosh scored a brilliant goal from 18 yards.
Army had another opportunity to add goal when Bharat Khawas was provided a penalty after Police goalie Roshan Khadka fouled him in the penalty box. However, Army's skipper failed to score his team's third goal of the match as his shot was punched away by Roshan.
After guiding his team to the final, head Army coach Nabin Neuapne said that his players sticking to the game plan was the main reason behind the victory. “We had planned to mark key players of the opponent team which we executed perfectly and that helped us defeat a tough team like Police,” said head coach Neupane. He also said that Police kept his team under pressure in the first half but improved performance from his players in the second half helped to seal the victory. “Especially, midfielders played very well in the second half. If Bharat had converted his penalty, the score line would have been even more better,” added Neupane.
Meanwhile, Police's skipper-cum-coach Jumanu Rai said that losing a player in the second half affected the outcome. “We gave a tough fight to Army in the first half but losing a player in the second half affected our team, which eventually cost us the match,” said Rai.
He also added that poor conversion also didn't help his team. “We missed some very good chances which would have been very helpful for us to make a comeback in the game had the players converted them,” added Rai.