KATHMANDU, Jan 27: The title race has turned into a dogfight in the recent weeks as Machhindra Club and Manang Marshyagdi are just a point away from the leader Tribhuvan Army Club after the eighth round of fixtures in the ongoing Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League.
In the battle for supremacy in Nepali football, the departmental team Army has turned it in style as it is unbeaten in six league matches, recovering from its slender 1-0 defeat in the second round at the hands of Manang.
But keeping the current looping success aside, the teams at the top end of the table have not been consistent. With five wins in eight games, Army leads the table, but has thrown away results against Sankata Club and New Road Team (NRT).
As for Machhindra, it would have the same points as Army, but got its one point deducted since it finished second from bottom last season. With five wins, it has boasted its title credentials, but looks threatened by teams who attack with high press and prioritized wings as it could not finish the game after taking the lead against Chyasal Youth Club and title competitor Manang. It was also beaten 2-0 by Himalayan Sherpa.
Manang has had the most inconsistent run of the three teams so far, as it has drawn four back to back matches, finally ending its winless run in the eighth round beating Saraswati Youth Club 1-0.
After it went to a flying start with three straight wins against the departmental teams, Armed Police Force Club and Army followed by Brigade Boys Club, it went to a shocking run of draws in four straight matches. It first played a 1-1 draw against Friends Club, and then drew 2-2 to Machhindra, followed by a goalless stalemate against Himalayan Sherpa and 2-2 draw with Three Star.
Manang is still unbeaten, but it has a lot to prove when it plays against a rejuvenated Sankata side, who despite being just five points off the top place and sitting in the seventh, has been shaky in the performances and has yet to win two matches on the trot.
Now, the clash of the week is between Machhindra and Three Star, who is in the fourth place and three points behind the leader. The game will see Machhindra face a side, who still has not won two matches consecutively after it beat Police and APF in the second and the third rounds respectively.
Three Star will have a chance to defeat a title contender and change the fate of the league table after it failed to beat both Army and Manang. It lost 2-0 to Army, while it scored a late goal to deny Manang a win in a 2-2 draw.
Army, however, has been the most consistent team in the league, but it has not been able to be authoritative in the table. With wins against Friends, Himalayan Sherpa, Three Star, Saraswati and Chyasal, it has boosted its title charge, but failed to win against top half teams Sankata and NRT with disappointing draws. It now faces a strong Jawalakhel team.
The opening match of the week features the departmental teams Police and APF who carry different aspirations. Police is looking to strengthen its bid at the top half of the table, while APF will wants to get its second win of the season as it currently lies second from bottom.
The others games feature Himalayan Sherpa and Saraswati, both struggling, followed by Friends playing Chyasal, both in the mid table. The final league game of the round sees Brigade facing the NRT side, who is flying at the moment with 12 points, two adrift of both Machhindra and Manang.