Republica Players of Jhapa XI (blue) and Rupandehi XI in action during the semifinal match of the Mechi Netralaya Gold Cup in Kakarbhitta, Jhapa on Wednesday
JHAPA, Jan 5: Jhapa XI has reached the final of the ongoing Mechi Netralaya Gold Cup registering a thumping 4-0 win over Rupandehi XI on Wednesday.
In the first semifinal match of the tournament played in Kakarbhitta, Karna Limbu netted a hat-trick while Yogesh Gurung scored another goal for Jhapa XI.
It is the first time Jhapa XI has advanced to the final of any tournament following semifinal exits in the last three competitions including Surunga Gold Cup, Sharanamati Gold Cup in Jhapa and Duhabi Gold Cup and Governer's Gold Cup in Sikkim.
After booking the place in the final, Jhapa XI's Sanjay Rai said, “We registered a deserving win. We have been trophyless for a while after facing disappointing semifinal defeats in last couple of the tournaments. So, we want to break that trend by lifting trophy this time.”
Earlier, Jhapa XI went ahead in the match with captain Yogesh Gurung's goal in the 36th minute utilizing Buddha Chemjong's cross from the wing.
The match between two strong district based clubs was goal less for more than half an hour after both teams failed to utilize handful of goal scoring chances.
In the space of three minutes before the first half, both teams had one chance each to score the goals. Rupandehi XI had the opportunity to score the equalizer in the 42nd minute when Laxman Ruchal could have charged the ball from the edge of the penalty box. However, he couldn't direct the ball into the opponent's post. A minute later Jhapa XI missed a golden opportunity to extend its lead after Karna Limbu failed to score on one versus one situation against Rupandehi XI's goalie Dilip Chhetri.
Rupandehi XI which was trailed down by a goal was forced to play with 10 players from the beginning of the second half as its African recruit Armand was shown red card in 46th minute. Rupandehi XI's striker was already booked in first half and second yellow card in the second half saw him leaving the pitch which was the turning point of the match. Jhapa XI then fully controlled the match for the rest of the time and added two more goals.
Karna Limbu extended Jhapa XI's lead by 2-0 in the 51st minute utilizing the pass from Narendra Mani Limbu. Karna notched team's third and personal second goal in 75th minute, thanks to Buddha's pass in 18-yard. To complete the hat-trick Karna made 4-0 for Jhapa XI two minutes later as he collected the ball following goalkeeper Dilip's rebounder off Ranjit Shrestha's shot. Hat-trick scorer Karna was declared man-of-the-match.
Coincidentally the match featured Dhimal siblings as elder brother Bijay played from losing side Rupandehi XI and younger brother Rajin was in Jhapa XI's team which turned out to be winner of the match.
Rupandehi XI's team manager Jaggunath Khadka pointed out players' loose temper in the match as reason behind defeat. “We had chance to make come back in the game even going down by 1-0,” said Khadka, “ but players playing with loose temper and foreign player getting sent out receiving red card affected the outcome of the match,”
In the last semifinal of the tournament between host Kakrbhitta Football Training Center and Armed Police Force (APF) will be played on Thursday.