Rising Club inflict Sports Castle first defeat, advance into playoffsThe Dharan-based side beat the table toppers 6-4 to reach the playoffs of the ‘A’ Division National Futsal League. The second team of Qualifier 1 will be decided today.
Sports Castle surrendered their unbeaten 'A' Division National Futsal League run after a 6-4 loss against The Rising Club on Monday, and it was also a strategic loss for the leaders.
Sports Castle were already guaranteed a top-place finish and Qualifier 1 berth before their final league match against the Dharan-based side. Coach Bishnu Gurung rested his key and injured men and his second-stringers also chose not to put up an impressive show at the Pokhara covered hall.
Rising took full advantage of the situation. Milan Rai scored a double and Rewosh Maskey, Biku Tamang, Sudip Gurung and Bishan Shrestha scored a goal each to send their side up to the second position with 19 points—three points behind the toppers Sports Castle. Sumit Shrestha, Suren Budha Magar, Kishor Gurung and Dipesh Ghale got on the score sheet for Sports Castle.
The win means Rising have qualified for the playoffs. Sankhamul have already reached the playoffs collecting 18 points and still have a game in hand. Sankhamul are to take on host city's Sabin Memorial on Tuesday.
If Sankhamul lose against Sabin Memorial in their final round fixture, Rising will end up in the second position in the league and advance for the Qualifier 1—an easy target for Sports Castle.
Sankhamul are still unbeaten in the league and are a big headache for Sports Castle. The table toppers want to avoid a tough fixture against Sankhamul in the first Qualifier scheduled for Wednesday and if they lose Qualifier 1, they will have to go through the winners of the Eliminator Thursday to reach the final.
The hectic fixture will not give Sports Castle players enough time to recover for the final which coach Gurung, who has had the experience of training the national futsal team, understands well.
And even if Sankhamul beat Sabin Memorial and finish second in the standings, they will have no time to rest ahead of the Qualifier 1 which will be a huge advantage for Sports Castle.
"The experience of losing is bitter. Who wants to face defeat?" Sports Castle assistant coach Arbin Gurung said with a smile on his face after the loss.
"We tried to protect our injured players because we will have to play against strong opponents in the playoffs," added Arbin. "We gave a chance to new ones. They tried but it was not enough to win the game."
Arbin conceded Sports Castle played a strategic game hoping they would face relatively weaker opponents in the first Qualifier.
"We believe that if Rising finishes in the top two, it will be easier for us," he said.
Rising's coach Yubendra Gurung said they benefited from the opponents' easy state.
"We had an easy battle because Sports Castle had already advanced into the playoffs. They protected their key players and we took advantage of it," said the coach.
The remaining playoff spot will be decided on Tuesday. Futsal 5 Dharan, who sit in the fourth position with 14 points, will need to defeat Prabhatpheri Youth Club to advance. However, if they lose and Sabin Memorial beat Sankhamul, Sabin Memorial will reach the playoffs.
In another match of the day, Sky Goals defeated relegated Lumbini Futsal 5-4.