JHAPA, Dec 1: Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) lifted the title of 3rd Mechi Netralaya Kakarbhitta Gold Cup Football Tournament beating Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) 3-2 on penalties in the summit clash on Friday.
National team goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu saved three penalties to help the departmental team overcome the A-Division rival MMC in Jhapa to win its third trophy of the year. Earlier, TAC had defeated MMC in Satakshi Gold Cup final held in Jhiljhile of the same district.
Champion TAC bagged a purse of Rs 800,000 while the runner-up MMC was awarded with Rs 400,000.
TAC had won Bishal Memorial Gold Cup Football Tournament beating Sankata Club in Birgunj in April, which was its first title of the year.
Meanwhile the final match played at Kakarbhitta School's ground was pushed to the penalty shootout after it ended in a goalless draw in the regulation time.
TAC's goalkeeper Kuthu denied the shots of MMC skipper Anil Gurung, Kamal Shrestha and Nirajan Malla. Only Heman Gurung and Bimal Basnet were the players to successfully convert their penalty kicks.
MMC's goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa also saved two penalties as he foiled the attempts of TAC's Jitendra Karki and Padam Tamang. But other three players of TAC including Nawayug Shrestha, Santosh Tamang and Bibek Basnet scored from the spot as the departmental side clinched the trophy.
After guiding his team to the title of tournament that has the highest cash prize among the competitions organized outside the Kathmandu Valley, head coach Nabin Neupane said goalkeeper Kuthu made a big difference.
“Despite dominating the match, we couldn't produce the goals which pushed the match to the penalties. And Kuthu made a big difference and led us to the victory,” said head coach Neupane.
MMC head coach Bijay Ghale said that his midfield and attack were disappointing in the final match. “Our midfield created little chances throughout the match which was missed by strikers. Tie-breaker is all about luck and it wasn't in our side today,” said head coach Ghale. He had sent Anil Gurung and Nirajan Malla to the pitch in extra time keeping penalties on mind, but both of the players failed to score from the spot.
MMC's goalie Dinesh Thapa was declared player-of-the-tournament and was rewarded with Rs 50,000. Similarly, TAC's Bikesh Kuthu, Bharat Khawas and Nabin Neupane were rewarded with best goalkeeper, forward and coach awards.
Likewise, semifinalist Kakarbhitta Training Center's Bhushan Rai and MMC's Bishal Rai were given the best defender and midfielder awards. Best players and coach got Rs 20,000 each.
Dinesh Henjen of the same team was declared the highest goalscorer with two goals while Kakarbhitta Training Center's Milan Rai was announced as the rising player. Henjen was rewarded with Rs 25,000 while Rai got Rs 10,000. National Sports Council (NSC)'s Member Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista distributed the prizes.