Three Star's Sanjog Rai (left) and Nepal Police Club's Ajit Bhandari in action during the Aaha Rara Gold Cup semifinal match at the Pokhara Stadium's football ground in Pokhara on Wednesday. Photo: Republica
POKHARA, March 12: The departmental team Nepal Police Club has advanced into the final with a stunning 3-0 win over Three Star in the ongoing 18th Aaha Rara Gold Cup in Pokhara on Wednesday.
With the win in the semifinals, Police has become the first team to reach the final for 10 times. In the nine previous final appearances, the A-Division outfit has managed to win the trophy six times along with the Caravan Gold Cup. It won the Aaha Rara in the first, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth and the 16th editions.
In the sixth between the teams in the Aaha Rara history, Police dominated the encounter and won the match in the first semifinal match of the season at the Pokhara Stadium's football ground.
Police took an early lead in the first half as it dominated Three Star from the start of the game. Ravi Paswan crossed the ball from the right flank, and captain Bharat Shah hit a superb one-touch shot to score the first blood.
Police got chances after chance in the first half, but missed them. It then doubled its score in the second half as Nir Kumar Rai dribbled past two Three Star defenders in the right side and scored a solo goal in the 51st minute. He hit a curve shot from the corner line of the d-box line, which Police keeper tried to punch, but went in.
The team scored its third goal and ended the game in the 71st minute as Rai dribbled past a few Three Star defenders from the midway line, and passed the ball to Tej Tamang. Tamang then scored beautifully from the edge of the box.
A physically strong side, Police, also played good technical football to win the game. It dominated the possession throughout the game, but also missed a few chances to add more to the scoreline.
Police missed a chance to double the lead in the 12th minute as Hem Tamang hit a shot from near the d-box, but Three Star keeper saved it. Anjan Rai hit a shot in the second half injury time, but his shot narrowly went wide off the target.
The five-time Aaha Rara champion, Three Star was helpless against a technically strong Police side. It looked poor in almost every aspect of the game as the passing was not good, it could not hold the ball against a high pressing Police team, and then missed good chances to score.
Three Star missed a chance to equalize in the 20th minute as Sushil Rai gave a pass to Aashish Rai, but his shot from near the penalty box was cleared brilliantly by Police defender Santosh Hemrun.
Mikchhen Tamang hit a corner in the 34th minute which was headed by Sushan Shrestha first. The ball went to the path of center back Ananta Tamang, but his header was saved by Police keeper.
Ananta hit a volley shot in the 63rd minute which was blocked and went to the path of Sanjog Rai, but his header was superbly saved by Police keeper, while Mikchhen Tamang could not score from the point blank range after Dipesh Ghale’s shot in the 74th minute was deflected.
Also, substitute Prabin K Sainju passed the ball to Sushan Shrestha in the 87th minute, but his shot went wide.
Nir Kumar was named the man of the match after his contributions on two goals Police scored. The second semifinal will see the other departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club play against Manang Marshyangdi Club on Thursday.