Futsal 5 hold Sankhamul, Dhuku winAltogether 10 teams are vying in the tournament being played in the round robin format.
Futsal 5 Dharan came from behind twice to salvage a 3-3 draw against Sankhamul FC, one of the favourites, in their opening match while Dhuku Futsal Hub made a winning start with a 8-6 win over Sabin Memorial FC in the 'A' Division National Futsal League at the Pokhara covered hall on Sunday.
Susaan Shrestha gave an early third-minute lead to Kathmandu-based Sankhamul before Krijal Khadka doubled the advantage in the 11th minute. Prabesh Joshi cut the deficit for Futsal 5 just before the interval and Bijay Shrestha equalised during the half-hour mark in an entertaining game.
Laxman Thapa Magar restored Sankhamul's lead in the 32nd with a penalty before goalie Dhiraj Tamang was sent off moments later. Saroj Tamang made it 3-3 two minutes later despite Futsal 5 playing with a man down. Khadka of Sankhamul was declared the man of the match.
Sankhamul coach Prakash Pariyar said that his team was yet to fully adjust to playing on mat as they were used to in artificial turf. "Though we had trained for a few days on the mat, it was not genuine futsal turf. Playing inside the indoor hall also made the difference. I feel the players got tired a bit too fast today," said Pariyar.
"Futsal 5 are a strong side and it is not bad that we were able to share points with them. Now all teams have played their first match and we have also seen how others play. We will set our strategy as per the opponents in the upcoming matches," added Pariyar.
Futsal 5 coach Biswash Lama expressed satisfaction with his side's performance. "The players exhibited great teamwork and we were able to fight back despite playing with a man down. They gave their cent percent," Lama said.
In another match, Urken Sherpa, Abhay Rana and Bikrant Narshingh Rana scored a brace each as Kathmandu-based Dhukhu overcame a goal deficit to beat Sabin Memorial of Pokhara. Amit Lama and Pemba Nurbu Lama contributed the other goals. Abhinash Tamang and Manish Chhetri scored twice each for Sabin Memorial while Sunil BK and Saroj Gurung also hit the targets. Sherpa of Dhuku was named the man of the match.
Dhuku coach Raj Maharjan said that his team played under pressure against the home city's team. "We were playing against Sabin for the first time and they were much better than my expectations," said Maharjan.
Sabin Memorial coach Rajendra Tamang said that his side failed to live up to his expectations. "Dhuku, however, are the best team in the country. We also scored against them but the experience and leadership was the main thing lacking in the squad," he said.
Earlier in the day, Lumbini Futsal edged Jharana Sports Club 6-2 in the Rupandehi derby. Rupen Baraili struck twice for Lumbini while skipper Anjan Thapa, Geli Sherpa, Raefi Maharjan and Rozan Dahal were also on target. Amit Gurung and Mohan Thapa Magar netted for Jharana.
Lumbini coach Prajwol Shrestha said that he was confident of beating the team from the same locality. "We had played against them previously and were confident of victory. However, the boys were somewhat nervous as they were playing on such a surface for the first time," said Shrestha, adding that they would amend their weaknesses in their next fixture.
His counterpart Nirmal Thapa of Jharana said that they came to the tournament with a short preparation of just one month. "We missed some chances and it was the first match on such a mat," said Thapa.
Altogether 10 teams are vying in the tournament being played in the round robin format. The teams winning top four positions will play qualifiers and eliminators for a place in the final.
The winners of the tournament will take home Rs1 million while the runners-up will get half the amount. All matches of the event are telecast live on Kantipur Television and the digital platform ekantipur.com.