APF see off holders Police on penalties to reach semisA missed penalty from captain Bharat Shah cost dearer as Police lost 4-3 on penalties.
Defending champions Nepal Police Club bowed out to Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) after a 4-3 shootout defeat in their quarter-final of the Sudurpaschim Khaptad Gold Cup in Dhangadhi on Thursday.
Both sides changed their goalkeepers towards the close of stoppage time as neither team could break the deadlock. While APF replaced custodian Raju Nagarkoti with Roman Rasaili, Police brought in Roshan Khadka in place of Satrudhan Chaudhary for the imminent shootout.
Both the custodians lived up to expectations, saving one shot apiece, but the Police skipper Bharat Shah crashed his spotkick into the woodwork that saw the APF advance to the last four.
APF penalty takers Sudip Shikhrakha, Ashis Lama, Prabin Syangtan and Dinesh Rajbanshi converted from the spot while Nabin Lama was denied by Police custodian Khadka. Police players Saujan Rai, Tej Tamang and Buddha Bal were on the target while Ajit Bhandari was denied by goalie Rasaili and skipper Shah hit the post.
Police had come into the match a day after a 1-0 defeat to another departmental rivals Tribhuvan Army Club in the Rhino Gold Cup on Wednesday. The APF have added Chyasal Youth Club players Dinesh Rajbanshi and Nitin Thapa in their squad after making it to the quarter-finals.
APF coach Sudip Shrestha said that the team's strategy paid off. "The addition of two new players were helpful for the team. In fact, we have brought them for next season's league," said Shrestha. They will meet hosts Sudurpaschim XI in a semi-final on Saturday.
Police coach Sanjib Joshi blamed lack of rest and continuous matches for the defeat. "We played three matches in as many days including the semi-final and final in the Rhino Cup. We did not have enough recovery time after playing in Nawalpur on Wednesday. However, the boys game tough fight but they failed to capitalise on scoring chances. We have requested the organisers to delay the kick-off by half an hour, but they turned it down," said Joshi.
Himalayan Sherpa will take on Gorkha Boys Club in the last quarter-final match on Friday.