ILAM, April 3: Nepal Police Club has reached the semifinals of the ongoing Mai Valley Gold Cup Football Tournament registering a 1-0 victory over Manang Marsyangdi Club on Monday. Abhisek Rijal scored the only goal of the match to help Police book its place in the last four. Police will now face departmental rival Tribhuvan Army Club in the semifinal match on Wednesday.
A Division giant Manang, which is in Ilam fresh after lifting the Rajarshi Janak Cup in Sarlahi a few days back, crashed out from the very first match of the tournament. Manang was given a straight entry to the quarterfinal of the tournament but a shock defeat to Police dented its ambition of winning its fifth title of the season. Manang has already bagged the titles of Khaptad Gold Cup, Aaha-Rara Gold Cup and Jhapa Gold Cup this season.
Similarly, Police had defeated host Mai Valley Football Club in its first match before booking its place in the last eight.
The only goal of the match came in the 36th minute when Police’s winger Abhisek Rijal finished from close range after collecting a rebounder. Man-of-the-match Bhola Silwal had taken the free-kick but Manang’s defense line failed to clear the ball, giving Abhisek a chance to score from the danger zone.
Manang, which was studded with national players, couldn’t play up to its mark against the departmental side in the match played at Ilam’s Tundikhel.
Regular captain of Police, Jumanu Rai, who was in a player-cum-coach role in the absence of coach Kumar Katwal, came on as a substitute in the 85th minute. After guiding Police to the victory over the tough team, Manang, Jumanu said that his team played as per their plan. “Our strategy of pressing from the early moment to the last minute of the match was well executed, helping us pull the victory. Players worked hard from the first minute to the last,” said Rai.
Meanwhile, Manang’s head coach Chhiring Lopsang said that poor condition of the ground affected the outcome of the match. “We couldn’t play our normal game due to poor pitch condition. Eventually, it prevented us to play our passing game,” said head coach Lopsang.
He also said that his players were overconfident and made costly defensive mistakes. “My players were overconfident today. Defenders couldn’t mark the opponents properly and let them run in the danger zone,” added Lopsang.
CMG Club Sankata will take on departmental side Armed Police Force (APF) in the last quarterfinal match of the tournament on Tuesday.