Machhindra send champions Sankata crashing outCameroonian forward Oloumou, a player of ‘A’ Division outfit NRT and recruited by the league leaders only for the Aaha Rara Gold Cup, scores twice in a 4-1 victory.
Cameroonian forward Messouke Oloumou scored twice in the second half for Machhindra Club as they knocked defending champions Sankata Club out with a 4-1 victory to book a semi-final spot in the Aaha Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament at Pokhara Stadium on Monday.
Apart from Oloumou, who originally plays for New Road Team (NRT) in the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League, Utsav Rai and Abhisek Gurung were also on target for the league leaders while Ganesh Hamal hit the consolation for Sankata.
Machhindra will meet APF FC in the first semi-final on Wednesday.
Machhindra had headed for Pokhara in the absence of their seven key players — goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha, forwards Bimal Gharti Magar, Manish Dangi and Sunil Bal, midfielders Sujal Shrestha and Bishal Rai, and defender Devendra Tamang — who have been inducted in the national team camp for Mauritius friendlies.
In the absence of their key players, Machhindra had hired Oloumou, and Nathaniel Garcia, who plays for Friends Club in the league, to strengthen their squad for Aaha Rara. The duo paid off the faith put on by coach Prabesh Katuwal with Garcia setting up passes for both goals scored by Oloumou.
But it was Utsav Rai, who is yet to start in the league and has appeared in just four matches as substitute and played for 64 minutes in nine matches, who broke the deadlock. The midfielder collected the ball after teammate Abhiyan Pradhan dispossessed Sankata's Jaya Gurung and applied a low ball strike from 25 yard.
Oloumou doubled the advantage two minutes into the restart in a counter attack as Abhishek Rijal found a long pass by Garcia from their own half. Rijal then supplied a cross to the Cameroonian forward who controlled the ball inside the area and took his time to send the ball beyond three defenders and goalie Raja Babu Thapa.
Sankata's Ganesh Hamal, the early second half replacement of Gurung, cut the deficit in the 63rd as he headed Amit Tamang's corner from the crowded area after an initial header by Niraj Basnet. Substitute Abhisek Gurung restored Sankata's two goal cushion in the 84th as he reacted quickly to tap in a ball spilled by goalie Thapa, who made a long stretching dive to stop a freekick by defender Omolaja Kareem.
Kareem sealed the comprehensive victory four minutes from time after he collected a lofted pass by Garcia and fired from the area to beat goalie Thapa.
Sankata coach Rajkumar KC said that his side failed to score due to a lack of coordination among team members. "Our defenders made errors after errors and conceded goals, though we played a much improved game in the second half," said KC, adding that the inclusion of Oloumou made much difference between the two sides though both the teams were of a similar level.
Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal expressed dissatisfaction at referee Nabindra Maharjan's decision. "The sound performance of the team made it possible for us to beat strong opponents like Sankata with such a scoreline," said Katuwal, whose side was held to a goalless draw in the league by the same opponents, one among the two teams Machhindra had shared points in the league.
Tribhuvan Army Club will vie against Three Star Club in the last quarter-final on Tuesday.