Photo courtesy: Sudarshan Ranjit Sahara Club goalkeeper Sujit Gurung (C) jumps for the ball as players of Sahara Club (Green) and Far-Western XI vie during the opening match of Aaha–Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament at Pokhara Stadium on Tuesday.
POKHARA, Jan 17: Dominant performance from African recruits gave a flying start to host Sahara Club as it defeated Far-Western XI Sporting Club 4-0 in the curtain raiser of Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament on Tuesday. In the match played at Pokhara Stadium, three goals came from African players including a brace from Martin and another from Peter Segun while Richard Pun contributed another goal for the host.
Martin gave early lead to Sahara scoring in the 6th minute in a one-versus-one position beating Far-Western XI's goalkeeper Tikendra Thapa. Richard Pun extended the host's lead in the 27th minute as he utilized Uttam Gurung's cross from the wing before firing it in the opponent's box from 18 yards.
Peter Segun notched another goal in the 38th minute from close range to make Sahara's lead 3-0 before the half time. Far-Western XI, which was under pressure after conceding three first-half goals, faced fourth goal of the match just eight minutes before the end of the second half. Man-of-the-match Martin scored his personal second goal utilizing a pass from Shiva Subedi as Sahara sealed the 4-0 win over Far-Western XI.
With the defeat in the opening match, Far-Western XI has crashed out from the tournament in its maiden participation while Sahara has fixed its semifinal clash against Sikkim United of India.
Earlier in the match, Far-Western XI was denied goal in the 22nd minute as its captain Mani Ram Chaudhary's close range shot was cleared from the goal-line by Sahara's Ramesh Magar.
After the match, Sahara's head coach Kiran Shrestha said scoring an early goal was the turning point of the match. “Far-Western is a good team but it came under pressure after we netted an early goal which helped us. Succeeding to convert the created chances into goals also helped us register an easy victory,” said Shrestha.
In the mean time, Far-Western XI's team manager Sushan Joshi said that lack of full fitness of his key player Mani Ram, who was subsituted in the 56th minute, affected the performance of the team. He also said that his players couldn't play up to the mark due to tiredness they felt because of long-distance travel. Expressing dissatisfaction toward the score-line, Joshi said, “This was the defeat with the biggest margin we faced after the club's formation two years ago. Pokhara also was a new venue for us,” said Joshi.
Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi inaugurated the tournament that features 12 domestic and foreign teams at Pokhara Stadium. The winner and the runner-up will bag purse of Rs 501,000 and Rs 251,000 respectively along with trophies and medals. The best player of the tournament will be awarded a scooter. Similarly, the best players in four positions - goalkeeping, defense, midfield and forward - as well as the coach will be rewarded with Rs 15,000. The highest scorer will get Rs 25,000.