(From right) MMC captain Anil Gurung, coach Tshiring Lopsang, Sahara coach Kiran Gurung and captain Uttam Gurung pose for a photo with the winners’ trophy of the 15th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament during a pre-match conference in Pokhara on Friday.
POKHARA, Jan 28: As defending champion Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) and host Sahara Club lock horn in the final of Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament for the second time on Saturday, both have set their sight on the title.
Coaches and captains of either side said they they have set strategy of scoring in the regulation time rather than prolonging the match into extra time or penalty. Moreover, they even claimed of pulling comfortable wins.
MMC coach Tshering Lopsang said the Pokhara stadium was like their home ground and it will not be difficult for them to win in final. “We have considered Pokhara Stadium as our home ground and we will not feel any kind of pressure to play against the host team,” Lopsang said.
He however, said that final would always be a tough match. “One can make into final only after putting strong performance, thus we have not rated Sahara as a weak team. But we have a set team which is also studded with national players,” Lopsang said adding that he has seen the opponent play in Hetauda and Dhangadhi and it was not a weak side.
The defending champion was beaten by the same opponent in the 12th edition and MMC coach Lopsang believes that there were lot of changes in the squad and it was even more stronger than three years back. “The coach has changed and there are also changes in players. Thus there is difference in squad comparison to three years ago. We have a strong team and it is the base for our victory.”
The record nine time finalist and four time champion MMC also claimed of winning in the final by three or four goal margin if it get score by first 10 minutes as per by strategy. “If we did not get early score, we will win by narrow margin, but in regular time. Score cannot be guaranteed at particular moment of time in football. It may come at any moment, event at the late moment.”
MMC skipper Anil Gurung said that his side would play as per the strategy of coach who however did not reveal about it. “We don’t have much pressure. As it is a final clash, the team coming up with better performance will lift title,” he said.
Similar to its opponent, home team Sahara has also aimed to keep the title at home. Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha said that though his team did not have bunch of national players, it has group of hard working players. “I believe disciplined performance will confirm title for us. We are planning to add some new players in the squad to strengthen out title bid,” Shrestha said adding the he shall add Hemanta Gurung and Man Bahadur Tamang in the squad.
Speaking about too much defensive approach of his team in previous matches, Shrestha said, “Defensive approach was the demand of the time and the strategy in final will depend upon the game play,” he said.
MMC had overcome Sankata 1-0 in the semifinal and Sahara edged past Tribhuvan Army Club 4-3 in tiebreaker following goalless draw. It will be the third time Sahara will be vying for the title.