MMC, Brigade pull off struggling winsThe record eight-time champions overcome Jawalakhel 1-0 while Brigade see off APF 3-2 with a stoppage time goal.
Record eight times champions Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) and Brigade Boys Club pulled off struggling victories in their opening matches of the Martyr’s Memorial 'A' Division Football League at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Sunday.
A second half goal from defender Dinesh Rajbanshi gave MMC 1-0 victory over Jawalakhel Youth Club while a stoppage time goal secured Brigade Boys a 3-2 victory over APF Football Club.
In the late fixture played under floodlights, MMC failed to live up to their hype and struggled until the first half to muster a single remarkable attempt on goal. It was a lowly Jawalakhel side who made only one threatening move in the first half. Jawalakhel forward Onguna Nikengue Junior's 35th minute header rattled off the bar in midfielder Suraj Jeu Thakuri corner.
Despite failing to muster a single attempt on goal in the first half and an evenly contested second half, MMC coach Rajendra Tamang said that he came to the match pressure-free without any plan because his side were a big team.
"As a coach I came without any pressure in the match and there was no need for a plan. Because MMC are big team and we were sure of victory. We also have big players in the team and they are capable of playing good football," said Tamang, however adding that his side came under pressure in the first half.
Jawalakhel threatened yet again three minutes into the second half when Junior headed wide in Indian midfielder Nicholas Fernandes’ cross.
MMC's first real threat came in the 54th when Nepali international winger and MMC captain Anjan Bista headed wide at the open net from the area in Nigerian forward Adelaja Somide’s cross.
They were rewarded in the 57th as Nepali international defender Dinesh Rajbanshi headed Indian midfielder Dayananda Singh's corner to break the deadlock which turned to be the decisive.
Jawalakhel came closer to equalising in the 73rd but Nitin Thapa failed to apply finishing touch to Junior's cross ahead of the goalline providing an easy opportunity for MMC goalie Bishal Sunar to grab it.
MMC squandered a golden scoring opportunity in the 89th as their well-known Nigerian forward Olawale Afeez shot wide from a close range in a cut back pass from captain Bista, who had dispossessed Florent Kone.
Jawalakhel coach Kishor KC pointed out that the game was an evenly contested affair and his side failed in the finishing department. "Both teams were equal on tactical, technical and physical fronts but we conceded the goal in the second half. The goalkeeper was at fault for the goal," said KC.
"I tried to use all amenities for the equaliser and also played with four forwards at times. We even created better opportunities but the finishing was under par," added KC.
In the early kickoff, Dinesh Rai struck twice and substitute Suraj Gurung added another in Brigade Boys' victory over departmental rivals. Aashish Lama and substitute Bikey Tamang were on targets for APF.
In the match between the relegation strugglers of the last season, substitute Gurung made the difference with an injury time goal to stun the departmental opponents. Brigade Boys had finished second from bottom and APF a place above them in the last league with nine points apiece.
Brigade Boys took an early 11th minute lead when Rai scored with a stunning freekick from 30 yards beyond the reach of goalie Raju Yogi. APF hit back the equaliser five minutes later through Lama as the forward applied a one-touch strike from the area to convert Awash Lamichhane’s cross.
Rai netted his second for Brigade Boys in the 65th beating an advancing goalie Yogi firing a low ball from area after substitute Gurung, 58th minute replacement of Dipesh Gurung, laid a perfect pass dribbling past two APF defenders.
APF substitute Bikey Tamang made 2-2 for the departmental team in the 77th with a header after receiving a perfect cross from Rabi Thing.
BBC made sure they walked away with full points after substitute Suraj Gurung applied a scorcher from the area at the far post after he was set by Bhuwan Basnet.
APF coach Kumar Thapa lamented that his side failed to execute their match plan properly. "We failed to execute our plans of holding balls and also conceded goals which we should not have. But it is the first match and we still have a long way to go," said Thapa, adding that it was a major blow for his side that had struggled neck-to-neck with BBC to avoid relegation last season.
Brigade coach Sanoj Shrestha said that it was a tough competitive game and victory in the first match was vital to lift the morale of the team. "Though we conceded due to poor man marking, the victory in the first game of the campaign is a huge boost to lift the morale of the team," he said.