Manang, Sherpa vent anger at ‘poor refereeing’ after goalless drawMachhindra replace Army at the top with the departmental side having a game in hand.
Coaches of both Manang Marshyangdi and Himalayan Sherpa complained about the poor standard of officiating as the defending champions were held to a goalless draw in the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League on Saturday. Earlier in the day, title contenders Machhindra defeated Jawalakhel Youth Club 1-0 win in the day’s opening match to climb to the top of the table.
“Manang always have to play against 15 opponents on the field,” said Dhaneshwor Prajapati, coach of the defending champions. “The referees have been biased against us since the very beginning this season.” Prajapati even expressed concerns about match officials’ being harsh against his players’ movement at the bench.
Sherpa coach Sanjib Budhathoki also questioned a few refereeing decisions during the match. “One of our key players [Stephane Samir Dieubeni] was wrongly booked today. It will hurt us as he will miss our next match against Machhindra. There were a lot of poor decisions by the ref.”
“Referees should be professional while officiating their matches, everybody heard him being too bossy in the field. He just cannot disrespect the players from either side,” Budhathoki said while adding, “They should be friendly to the players and what we saw today was against the norms. It is sad.”
Playing without three players who have been suspended by ANFA for their involvement in a brawl against Machhindra in their previous match, Manang lacked their usual industry and struggled to get past Himalayan Sherpa custodian Kishor Giri. The Sherpa goalie produced some reflex saves to keep Manang at bay.
Sherpa themselves had several opportunities but were found wanting in the finishing department.
The defending champions were reduced to 10 men in the 73rd minute after Suraj Bishwokarma fouled Sherpa’s Dieubeni when the Cameroonian defender just had the Manang ’keeper to beat from outside the area. The referee brandished a straight red for Bishwokarma was for the offence.
Manang then appeared a different side as the match became an end-to-end battle. “Our players responded very late to the instructions they were provided with. Despite being a man down, we managed to create some chances. But poor coordination between our strikers meant we lost two points,” Prajapati said.
Sherpa coach Bhudathoki also rued his side’s missed chances. “Despite not being able to make the best of the opportunities we had, holding the champions for a draw is still a good result, we are happy about the improvements we have been making.”
The draw means Manang, who remain undefeated this season, missed their opportunity to go atop the standings. They are now placed third in the table with 12 points from their six matches. Sherpa, who are yet to score a win, are eleventh with four points.
Earlier in the day, Machhindra replaced Tribhuvan Army Club at the top with 13 points after a narrow win over Jawalakhel Youth. The departmental side are a point behind them but have a game in hand.
Machhindra, who are the only unbeaten side alongside Manang, scored in the 31st-minute goal through Bishal Rai to inflict the first defeat on Jawalakhel Youth this season. The Jawalakhel side are now fifth in the table with nine points.
Jawalakhel coach Naresh Thapa pointed to the missed opportunities for failing to earn points against Machhindra, who started without three key players due to ANFA suspension. Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal attributed the early goal to his side’s victory.
Meanwhile, Brigade Boys Club have struck a sponsorship deal worth Rs1.2 million with Nepal Investment Bank Limited.
Friends Club, second from bottom, take on fourth-placed Three Star Club in the mid-day kick-off at the Dashrath Stadium on Sunday, followed by a clash between Brigade Boys Club (eighth) and bottom-placed Saraswoti Youth Club at 3pm. Both the matches will be played at the Dashrath Stadium.