Sankata win Aaha-Rara CupBal scores the decisive goal in extra time to beat Bhutanese Youth SC 3-2 in the final.
A decisive goal from a newly-recruited forward gave Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division outfit Sankata Club Club a 3-2 extra time win over the visiting Bhutanese Youth SC in the summit clash of the Aaha-Rara Pokhara Gold Cup football tournament at the Pokhara Stadium on Saturday.
Nepali international Bal, who also wore the captain’s armband since the regular captain Rabi Silwal was benched, tapped a low ball at the far post in the three minutes before the end of additional half an hour as Sankata lifted their second Aaha-Rara title. The match was pushed to added time following a 2-2 stalemate in the regulation 90-minute period.
The victory made Sankata rich by Rs1.2 million while the runners up Bhutanese Youth walked away with a purse of Rs 600,000.
Earlier, Bhutanese Youth made a dramatic comeback in the first-half after Sankata were 2-0 up in the 35th minute. The newly recruited Suraj Jeu Thakuri gave an eighth minute lead to Sankata after he found a ball parried by goalie Pujan Thapa Magar in his bid to block defender Nishan Khadka’s cross in the area.
Sankata doubled the advantage in the 35th minute through Cameroonian forward Messouke Oloumou after he found captain Bal’s corner in the crowded zone.
When it seemed that Sankata were heading for a big win, Rene Santillon spearheaded the visiting side’s comeback reducing the deficit two minutes later before Willis Griffith headed in the first half stoppage time to bring the game on level terms.
As the game was seemingly heading to shootout, Bal netted the decisive goal. Bal had joined Sankata from league champions Machhindra and was appearing in his debut tournament for the new team.
Apart from Bal, Sankata have also recruited defender Gautam Shrestha, midfielder Thakuri, Ayush Ghalan and goalkeeper Tekendra Thapa. They have also signed overseas players Oloumou, Stephen Binong and Andre Thiery Biyik to bolster their squad.
Following the victory, coach Salyan Khadgi said that they had faced a tough challenge and thanked all his players for their full efforts.
Sankata players also dominated the individual awards with Bal winning the best player award. He won a Tailg electric scooter for his efforts. Tailg managing director Sanjeeb Silpakar handed him the key. Sankata’s Tikendra Thapa was named the best goalkeeper, Ayush Ghalan, the best midfielder and Stephen Binong, the best forward. Messouke Oloumou ended up with the highest scorer award for his four goals in the tournament. Bhutanese Youth’s Hector Orgega was declared the best defender, while Dharan FC won the fair play award.