Ilam bounce back to beat JhapaMegh Raj KC’s men brush off their opening loss against holders Kathmandu with a 1-0 victory.
Amath Ndaw struck late in the second half as Sporting Ilam bounced back from their opening defeat with a 1-0 eastern derby win over Jhapa in the Nepal Super League at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Monday.
Debutants Ilam had lost to defending champions Kathmandu Rayzrs 1-0 in the tournament opener and it appeared Megh Raj KC’s side were heading to another poor outcome until Ndaw made sure Ilam get their campaign back on track with a superb finish in the 87th minute.
Ndaw had missed a golden opportunity to put Ilam in front in the 85th minute after missing a penalty that was awarded for Yogesh Gurung’s bad tackle on Bharat Khawas.
But Ndaw immediately made up for that missed chance, engineering a counter attack and racing to score with a double effort—which finally emptied the luck of Jhapa’s Spanish goalkeeper Jorge Canillas, who had made a series of magnificent saves to keep Ilam at bay.
Canillas also foiled a sequence of attack from his opponents midway into the second half, blocking a close-ranged shot from Guinea forward Fode Camara before punching away Dipesh Ghale’s effort after Senegalese Abdouble Ba first hit the upright.
Kuthu, who won the first edition of the Nepal Super League with Kathmandu in 2021, was chiefly at fault in Friday’s match that Kathmandu had won by a whisker. But against Jhapa, the former national goalkeeper was outstanding, especially in the second half.
Kuthu brilliantly blocked a close range header from Jhapa’s Spanish forward Jorge Peiaez Sanchez off a cross from Suraj Bista in the 54th minute. A minute later, Kuthu was the hero again, denying Sanchez inside the six yard box after the Spaniard was set up by Awas Lamichhane.
Kuthu then safeguarded Ilam’s lead in the dying seconds, quashing Pradip Lama’s goal-bound header with his lightning quick reflex.
Jhapa captain and Nepal’s joint top scorer Anjan Bista was off most of the time except for his dazzling header that rattled the crossbar in the final minutes of the first half.
Bal Gopal Maharjan’s Kathmandu will aim to maintain their winning start when they go against Chitwan on Tuesday.
Chitwan are also seeking to recover from their opening defeat at the hand of Pokhara Thunders.
A total of nine franchise teams including three new additions Jhapa, Ilam and Birgunj United are participating in the second edition of the tournament. The top four teams will advance into playoffs.