Sudurpaschim lift maiden trophy at homeForward Bikram Singh Thakuri scored in the home team's 1-0 win over 'A' division side Three Star.
Hosts Sudurpaschim XI defeated Three Star Club 1-0 in the final of Sudurpaschim Khaptad Gold Cup football tournament in Dhangadhi on Tuesday.
A solitary goal from striker Bikram Singh Thakuri in the 28th minute gave the hosts their first title since the inception of the annual tournament four years ago. For the Laltipur-based Three Star, an ‘A’ Division team, it was the second straight defeat in the final of the tournament. They had gone down to Nepal Police Club in last year’s final.
"We continued with the similar strategy of offensive football that we played in our quarter and semi-final matches for today, and that paid off," Sudurpaschim coach Rohit Bhandari said after the match. "We were able to take the lead in the first half like in the last two matches and we managed to hold that lead."
Bhandari praised Thakuri for scoring the match-winning goal.
"We all had faith on the forward and he lived up to our expectations. I want to dedicate the trophy to entire Sudurpaschim region," he said.
Thakuri had already proved himself as a crucial player for Sudurpaschim by scoring two goals each in their quarter-final win over Kanchanjung FC of India and the semi-final match against Nepal Armed Police Force Club.
Thakuri had come close to scoring in the 20th minute, but his effort was thwarted by Three Star skipper Bikram Lama through an incredible goalline clearance.
Thakuri would not be denied the second time around, as he opened the score—his fifth, making him the top scorer of the tournament—capitalising on a poor understanding among Three Star defenders.
Nepal international Ananta Tamang was at fault for conceding the goal. The defender’s back headed pass in a dangerous area was robbed by Thakuri before scoring a scorcher of a goal.
Three Star came close to equalising at the stroke of an hour through Ananta Tamang, whose shot was saved by Sudurpaschim's second choice goalie Pritam Khadka. Khadka had replaced first keeper Sujit BC after he picked an injury in the 53rd minute.
Sudurpaschim nearly doubled their advantage in the fading moment of the second half, but this time their star striker Thakuri failed to beat Three Star custodian Purna Chemjong in a one-on-one situation.
Three Star coach Meghraj KC lamented that they failed to play to their potential in the final.
"We could not play our natural game. A single error in the defensive line cost us dearly," said KC, whose side has so far gone without winning any silverware so far this season. Three Star were also defeated by Machhindra Club in the final of the Satashi Gold Cup last month in Jhiljhile, Jhapa.
The winners Sudurpaschim bagged a purse of Rs2.1 million and runners up Three Star collected Rs1 million.
Thakuri won the best player and top scorer awards. Sudurpaschim’s Dhan Bahadur Thapa won the best defender while Bhandari was adjudged the best coach.
Three Star's Sushil Rai was declared best midfielder and Chemjong best goalkeeper. They were rewarded with Rs15,000 each.