Hosts Sahara crash out in openerAPF FC inflict 2-0 defeat to the hosts with a goal each from Awash Lamichhane and Pradip Lama.
‘A’ division outfit APF FC sent hosts Sahara Club crashing out with a 2-0 victory in the curtain raiser of the 20th Aaha Rara Gold Cup football tournament at Pokhara Stadium on Thursday.
Awash Lamichhane and Pradip Lama hit the targets in the first and the second half respectively to book a quarter-final ticket in the tournament played behind closed doors. APF, who had edged the same opponents in the opening game of the 17th and 19th edition, will meet visiting BYSC Minnesota (USA) in the quarter-final on Saturday.
Sahara, who came into the game with five players of 'A' division side Satdobato Youth Club, struggled from the onset against the departmental team facing a tough time to avoid relegation in the country's premier division football hierarchy. They lacked understanding and coordination.
Lamichhane put the departmental team ahead in the 14th after he found a through pass from Armand Beadum at the edge of the area and took the ball forward before making a well-placed finish to stun goalie Abishek Baral.
Lama doubled the advantage at the hour mark capitalising on a cross from Rabi Thing. Lama found the cross at the edge of the area after Sahara defenders failed to clear the ball of their range before Lama fired from the area.
Sahara coach Pralahad Hirachan said that his side lacked proper coordination in the game. "We had very few training sessions because our team was formed of players from different teams of the 'A' Division league. We could not set up well," he said.
APF coach Kumar Thapa attributed that his side had the advantage of assembled opponents. "We could have scored several goals but missed many opportunities. Had we won with a big margin, it could have boosted the confidence of players for the next match," said Thapa.
Himalayan Sherpa Club will vie against Nepal Police Club on Friday.
Meanwhile, organisers Sahara Club honoured Nepali international winger Anjan Bista with the Best National Football Player Award 2078. He was awarded a purse of Rs 35,000 and letter of appreciation by All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) president Karma Tsering Sherpa.
According to Sahara president Hariram Gurung (Suraj), Bista was awarded for his performance at the national and international level.
Journalist Himesh Ratna Bajracharya of Kantipur was conferred special honour by Sahara for his contribution in publishing a book 'Sahara' on the occasion of 20th edition of the tournament.