Army scores three goals in second half to reach Aaha Rara semis
February 25, 2019 10:46 AM NPT
By: DHAN BASNET
Tribhuvan Army Club’s Nawayug Shrestha (18) celebrates after scoring a goal during a quarterfinal match of the Aaha Rara Gold Cup football tournament in Pokhara on Sunday. Photo: Umesh Pun/Republica
POKHARA, Feb 25: Three goals in the last 20 minutes propelled departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club to a stunning second half comeback over the other A-Division League outfit Himalayan Sherpa Club, winning the game 3-1 in Pokhara on Sunday. With the win, Army has reached the semifinals.
Army, who came back from a disappointing Jigme Dorji Wanchuck Gold Cup in Bhutan where it lost 1-0 to eventual winner Paro FC in the last four, has made its title winning campaign stronger with the win.
Army, after winning the Madan Bhandari Gold Cup one and half months ago, fancies chances to win its second title of the season.
Army went down in the first half, but a brace from Nawayug Shrestha and a strike from George Prince Karki helped the departmental team reach the semifinals.
Himalayan Sherpa took the lead in the 27th minute as Tridev Gurung gave a pass to African player Patrick Goha and he delightfully hit a shot to score.
Army kept on trying to get back in the game within the first half by creating some chances, but all in vain.
Santosh Tamang missed a one-vs-one chance as he had dribbled the ball forward with no defenders to stop him, but Himalayan Sherpa keeper Kishor Giri saved the shot in the 15th minute.
Himalayan Sherpa kept Army under pressure with attacking football and got a chance itself. Gurung hit a shot, but it was saved by Army keeper Bikesh Kuthu.
Army got a free-kick in the 71st minute which was taken by Tamang. He put the ball inside the Himalayan Sherpa danger box, and the ball was headed in by Shrestha to give the departmental team chance to launch a late comeback in the game.
Army completed the comeback eight minutes later as Shrestha scored his second. A Sherpa player tried to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper, but George Prince Karki was aware of the situation and took the ball. He passed the ball to Shrestha and the goal scorer hit a chip shot against the forward-coming Himalayan Sherpa keeper Giri.
With a good counter-attacking display in the latter period of the second half, Army was successful in turning the game around on its head.
Army scored an injury-time goal to seal the win. Captain Bharat Khawas, who was sent off against Paro in Bhutan for dissent, hit a shot which was saved with a dive by Himalayan Sherpa keeper Giri. Karki pounced on the rebound and scored in an empty post to double Army’s advantage.
Despite taking a lead in the match, Himalayan Sherpa lost the game because of reckless defensive display.
Army also got chances in the second half before it scored its first goal as Karki passed the ball to an unmarked Bibek Basnet. His headed ball went a whisker away from entering the post in the 68th minute.
Shrestha, who scored a nine-minute brace, was named the man of the match and was rewarded with Rs 5,000. “The players were very tired after coming back from Bhutan. We could not show our usual game failing to catch the rhythm in the first half,” Army head coach Nabin Neupane said. “We managed to win the match as we played with a good rhythm. The game could have been different earlier, had we scored a goal in that one-vs-one situation.’’
Himalayan Sherpa team manager Bijendra Pudasaini said that he was satisfied with the performance of the players as the team played better than the first game.
“Our main problem was to be unable to defend our first-half lead. Conceding a goal in counterattack became the turning point in the match,” Pudasaini said.
India’s Sikkim United will take on Three Star Club, who also returned back from Bhutan after losing in the final against Paro, on Monday.