KATHMANDU, Dec 20: If the first round of the ongoing Qatar Airways Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League put two relatively inferior clubs as the early title contenders. With this, it also pre-narrated the slow decline of class of arguably the two biggest teams in Nepali football.
It’s just early days, but Machhindra Club and Chyasal Youth Club went full throttle to win their league openers against last season’s runner-up Sankata Club and Brigade Boys Club respectively.
However, it wasn’t all perfect for the two contenders Manang Marshyangdi Club and Three Star Club, who despite avoiding defeat looked out of their shape and performed miserably.
Manang, who defeated Armed Police Force (APF) Club 2-0, played with less intensity and was heavily dominated by the departmental team having less urgency. Likewise, Three Star was held to a 0-0 draw by Jawalakhel Youth Club as it rued missing big chances in the game.
The league has barely kicked off, but as far as the performance goes, Three Star and Manang have to lift up their gears if they want to win the title.
Both Manang and Three Star face the departmental sides in the second round with the former playing against Tribhuvan Army Club, while the latter vying for its first win in the league when it takes on APF.
However, Chyasal and Machhindra will go head-to-head to kickstart the second round on Friday as both the teams will be hoping to get the second straight win after a classy performance in the prior round.
Machhindra has cited it is aiming to win the title for the first time in its history after climbing to the Nepali football’s first tier in 2004. Its best finish ever in the A-Division League was in 2013 when the current Nepali national football team head coach Johan Kalin led it to the second place.
With the signings of Bishal Rai, Sujal Shrestha, Heman Gurung, Biraj Maharjan, Devendra Tamang, Abhishek Rijal from Manang and Rejin Dhimal, Bijay Dhimal, Buddha Chemjong and Peter Segun from Three Star, it boosts a solid pool of top players in its bid to win the title.
After finishing in the 13th place last season, it has got its one point deducted this time as the new provision states that the last two finishers of last season would have their two and one points deducted in 19-20.
With pleasing attacking football and quick breaks, it boosts its chances of keeping up the winning cause in the league. It only scored two goals against Sankata, but the fact head coach Prabesh Katuwal has grouped together a superb attacking team supports the intent Machhindra currently has.
However, with Chyasal, it comes down to the bonding between the coach and the players. Former national team forward Santosh Shahukhala bagged a brace to ensure Chyasal’s 2-0 win over Brigade Boys as his elder brother and head coach Bal Gopal stated “The target is to win the title, of course.”
With the national players Alan Neupane, Sunil Bal, Hemant Thapa Magar along with Nitin Thapa and Tshiring Gurung, the team poses a certain threat to the other teams as it still has three Japanese players, Junichi Ozawa, Tiaga Nakamura and Hayato Wakino, left to feature in the league.
Chyasal was authorative and straightforward in all part against Brigade Boys controlling possession and also utilized its pace with counter attacking football.
The second game to be played on Friday as Brigade Boys will face Friends Club with both the teams looking for their first win of the league season. Friends lost to Army in the first round.