Early goal eases pressure on Kathmandu RayzrsBal Gopal Maharjan’s side are level on seven points with leaders Biratnagar and Dhangadhi after a 1-0 win over Butwal Lumbini.
An early goal eased pressure on Kathmandu Rayzrs as they edged Butwal Lumbini FC 1-0 to come level on points with leaders atop the standings of Nepal Super League football tournament at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor on Tuesday.
Butwal Lumbini were the only undefeated side in the first ever franchise football tournament but had to rue missed penalty for the defeat after they conceded an early goal through Cameroonian forward Stephen Binong.
Both sides came into the match with a must win pressure as they had won only one among the last three matches and a winning outcome was a must to strengthen their bid for playoffs. Only the top four sides at the end of the single round robin league qualify for the playoff in the seven-team contest.
The victory lifts former national coach Bal Gopal Maharjan-led Kathmandu level on seven points with leaders Biratnagar City FC and Dhangadhi FC. Kathmandu, who leapfrogged two spots, however are third due to goal differences. Butwal Lumbini, who faced their first defeat, dropped one spot to fourth with five points after the completion of the fourth round.
“Everyone came with a spirited performance. The coach had briefed us it was a do-or-die game and everyone fulfilled their duty,” said captain Bikesh Kuthu.
Coach Maharjan said that it was a must win game. “The boys could not play to their potential in the first half but they were better after the break,” said Maharjan.
Kathmandu started with an offensive against the Butwal Lumbini side who were missing their influential winger Amir Shrestha along with defender Rabin Shrestha due to injuries.
Kathmandu charged at Butwal Lumbini post in the very first minute only for midfielder Tej Tamang to fire wide from 30-yard. They came closer to scoring in the fourth minute when Cameroonian midfielder Messouke E Oloumou made a bouncing header in Tamang’s pass but custodian Bishal Shrestha made a prompt reaction to grab it just ahead from the goalline.
Their pressure was rewarded in the fifth minute as Binong beat glovesman Shrestha to score in a long pass from Sudil Rai. Butwal Lumbini shot stopper was slow to make a quick decision and delayed going for the ball, allowing the forward to find the ball and put it past him into the net.
Butwal Lumbini wasted a golden chance to pull level two minutes later as they failed to convert the penalty. They were awarded the penalty after Bishwash Shrestha brought down forward Suman Lama inside the area prompting referee Kabin Byanjankar to point towards the spot. Ghanian midfielder William Opoku Asiedu stepped to take the penalty but his low strike towards the right was denied by a diving goalie Bikesh Kuthu, also the Kathmandu captain.
In the 13th, Kathmandu defender Florent Koara’s strike was caught by goalie Bishal Shrestha. Butwal Lumbini made the first threatening move in the 26th minute but Asiedu failed to apply the finishing touch from the area in a perfect pass from Ashis Lama.
Kathmandu came closer to doubling the advantage three minutes into the first half stoppage time but Ashis Lama smashed the bar from the edge of the area after being set up by Sudil Rai.
There were not many remarkable moves in the second half and besides a couple of attacks in the stoppage time, Kathmandu played with the intent of saving their lead. Oloumou’s feeble strike for Kathmandu in the first minute of the four-minute injury time was easily caught by a diving goalie Shrestha while Sudil Rai also failed to capitalise on a scoring opportunity in the fading moments.
Butwal coach Sanoj Shrestha said that the absence of winger Amir and defender Rabin proved costly for them. “The whole game scenario changed after we conceded an early goal,” said Shrestha who also blamed missed penalty as the reason for defeat.
Kathmandu players Rai was named the promising player and captain Kuthu was declared the super player. Rai got Rs10,000 and Kuthu Rs25,000 in cash reward.
Dhangadhi FC will play against Pokhara Thunders on Wednesday.