Three Star Club’s Buddha Raj Limbu (top) shoots the ball as Friends Club goalkeeper Mohamad Karim (right) tries to stop during a Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League football match at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur on Thursday. Photo: Bijay Gajmer/Republica
KATHMANDU, Oct 12: Departmental team Nepal Police Club and title favorite Ruslan Three Star Club have registered their first wins of this season’s Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League with dominating performances on Thursday.
At the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur, Three Star defeated NIBL Friends Club 2-1 in the first match of the day, while the second match saw Police beating Grandmaster Jawalakhel Youth Club 1-0.
Police was clearly outstanding with a fast attacking approach in its pressing game where midfielders captain Hem Tamang and Tej Tamang contributed in both defensive and attacking plays.
Defensively, center backs Ajit Bhandari and Dinesh Rajbanshi presented their solid performance with brilliant tackling and positioning in almost every Jawalakhel attack.
Police had most of the possession in the game and that contributed in the attacking style of its play. Hem tried the game’s first shot from outside the box which was saved in just the third minute of the match, followed by a seventh minute free-kick from Suman Lama, which went over the bar.
Jawalakhel was good in defense in the first ten minutes or so, but was still tested when Abhishek Rijal’s header from inside the box went just wide in the 10th minute.
Jawalakhel got its first real chance in the 14th minute as Olalekan Afeez Lawal’s shot from outside the box was saved.
Police kept on threatening the Jawalakhel backline as Santosh Hemrun hit a shot from inside the box, but Jawalakhel keeper Tekendra Thapa made a flying save to deny him in the 20th minute.
Police then got a free-kick taken by Lama, which he rolled short to Tej and the man-of-the-match crossed the ball beating the keeper. Bhandari volleyed it into the empty net in the 31st minute to give Police a deserving 1-0 lead.
Jawalakhel got a real opportunity four minutes after that, but Nir Bahadur Ale’s shot was saved by the Police keeper Shatrudhan Chaudhary.
The game saw Police head coach Ananta Raj Thapa present a balanced strategy where full-backs Hemrun and Buddha Lama exchanged their roles. Hemrun stayed back with the center backs when Lama went forward, while Lama stayed back when Hemrun pushed forward. The roles were exchanged considering which side the attacking was being played.
Also, the midfield role was exchanged between Tej and Hem as one played as a holding midfielder, and the other showcased playmaking role.
The strategy did not let Jawalakhel create any good chance with tactical stability, but when the losing side created any chance, it was easily dealt by the three back-staying defenders.
Jawalakhel got a corner in the 66th minute when Susil Kumar Yadav hit a corner which was headed over the bar by Rakesh Hamal, followed by substitute Prajwol Thapa Magar’s one-on-one miss in the 75th minute after Suman Dangol battled past the last standing defender to get him the ball.
Police got a vital opportunity to extend its lead when Rijal’s cross in a counter attack was failed to get a touch by Suman. The follow-up cross was hit by substitute Bharat Shah, but it went over the bar in the 81st minute. Even though Police was brilliant throughout the game, coach Thapa said he was not satisfied with the performance, and that the players did not play as expected.
“I’m not that satisfied with the performance from the team as I did not see what we came for. I have given priority to the young players, and they did well playing with this new strategy,” Thapa said. “We have to play better than this game and should improve in the next game. The thing is, plans were not properly executed as I wanted them to be. The attacking movements were not good. We must play even better to win the title.”
Meanwhile, Jawalakhel head coach Raj Kumar KC said that his target was to at least get a draw, but the players played well.
“They did well against a team of Police’s stature. The problem was that the players could not read the game of the opponent. No one wants to lose, but their performance was good.”
In the other match played on the same day, Three Star created a lot of chances, but goals from Ranjan Bista and Buddha Raj Limbu secured its win over Friends.
Three Star kept a lot of possession and focused on attacks largely from the flanks, but Friends did well in the defense in the initial part of the game.
Three Star closed down a lot more with quick passing football, but failing to provide a final ball to the attackers.
The winning team got the goal in the 14th minute as Bista got a ball from the midfield, got inside the box, set his body right to take the shot, and rounded the ball past Friends’ Bangladeshi keeper Mohamad Karim.
Friends also got plenty of chances to score as Sameer Rai hit a shot which was deflected and Peter Segun acrobatically cleared the ball just a minute later, followed by Ashis KC’s good-looking cross inside the box, but it was headed away by Bista in the 25th minute.
Three Star got further opportunities as Limbu hit a shot after cutting the ball past Saroj Yonjan Lama which was saved by the keeper in the 27th minute.
Ajayi Martins got a long midfield ball, went inside the box near the goalkeeper, but his shot went over the bar in the 37th minute, while Ranjit Dhimal’s free-kick grazed over the bar four minutes after that.
It was the same story in the second half as well when Rupesh KC’s long ball near the box was met by Nirajan Khadka’s head, sending the ball into the box, but Limbu’s shot went over the bar from close angle in the 57th minute.
Martins hit a shot from the box, but Limbu could not get his foot to the ball and the ball went wide in the 65th minute.
Limbu finally got his goal as Friends’ Anil Maharjan gave the ball away near the box, and it was taken by Limbu, who made space for himself and hit a dipping shot to score the second goal of the match.
Friends pulled one back in the 88th minute as Maharjan hit a shot from just outside the box, and the misjudged shot fell to the path of substitute Bikash Lama who finished from close range to make it 2-1.