Machhindra held by Manang, Henjan rescues ArmyThe holders play a goalless stalemate. The midfielder scores late to give Army a 3-3 draw against NRT.
Defending champions Machhindra FC showed no sign of progress as they were held to a goalless stalemate by Manang Marshyangdi Club in the Martyrs Memorial A-Division League at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato on Sunday.
Machhindra began their A-Division campaign on a 19-match winning streak that stretched back to the 2019-20 season when they won their historic maiden trophy. Their only loss of that season came against Himalayan Sherpa on January 17, 2020 when they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat.
Since then, Machhindra went on to win back-to-back titles (in 2019-20 and 2020-21) and were looking to win their third consecutive trophy and become the only third team to achieve that feat.
Ranipokhari Corner Team (1971-74) and Manang (1986-89) are the only teams to have won the trophy for three successive seasons.
Machhindra were also aiming to join Manang as the only first-time champions to defend the trophy for the three straight seasons.
But a dismal start to their season has turned the tide against their favour.
After losing their first two matches—3-1 against Jawalakhel Youth Club and 2-0 against Tribhuvan Army Club—they were again toothless in a 0-0 draw against Manang and now sit second from the bottom.
Machhindra, though, showed some improvements against Manang but lacked cutting edge.
The reigning champions threatened the opponents’ half from the start, with Pujan Uperkoti forcing a finger-tip save as early as in the second minute. Manang’s goalkeeper Deep Karki stretched to punch out Uperkoti’s 25-yard scorcher.
Bimal Gharti Magar almost put Machhindra in front in the 32rd minute when he rose to meet a free kick from Ranjit Dhimal but his shot inched away from the post.
Gharti Magar had a golden opportunity to inject the mojo back in the team in the 73rd minute when he sprinted into the six-yard box to find the ball but fired wide.
Omolaja Nurain Kareem’s long range effort nearly evaded goalie Karki in the 90th minute when it deflected off the Manang glovesman but hit the post.
The draw earns Machindra their first point of the season after the third round.
Manang have five points after one win and two draws and sit below Army in the fifth position on goal difference.
At the Chyasal Stadium, Dinesh Henjan scored late in the second half to salvage Army a thrilling 3-3 with New Road Team (NRT).
Nawayug Shrestha gave Army the lead in the 15th minute but the departmental side found themselves in a hot oven as NRT scored thrice in the space of three minutes after the restart, thanks to Lalnunzama brace and Jean Anicet Mboumi goal.
But Sudil Rai cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 68th and Henjan equalised in the 86th minute to rescue Army from the mouth of a first defeat of the season.
NRT, winless after two draws and one defeat, sit in the 11th position.
Surprise package Church Boys lead the standings with nine points. Satdobato also have nine points but lie in second position.