NPL Sports – Sunsari, January 22 : Sujal Shrestha scored a hat-trick as Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club advanced to the semi-finals of the Madan Bhandari Memorial Itahari Gold Cup Football Tournament here Yesterday.
In the first round match of the knock out tournament, MMC defeated Rumpum Jhapa-XI 4-3 at the Itahari Stadium. MMC were 3-0 up inside the first 20 minutes, thanks to Shrestha’s hat-trick that came in the space of 14 minutes, while Bishal Rai added another for the Kathmandu-based ‘A’ division outfit. Karna Limbu scored a brace for Jhapa, while Bimal Basnet of MMC netted an own goal.
MMC took an early lead when Shrestha opened the scoring in the fifth minute following a pass from Victor. MMC earned a penalty in the 12th minute after Dilen Lokten of Jhapa handled the ball inside the penalty area and Shrestha did not mistake in burying the ball into the nets.
MMC made it 3-0 in the 19th minute, also from the spot. This time Yakub Sawadego of Jhapa brought down Victor inside the danger zone and Shrestha converted the penalty to complete his hat-trick.
Karna Limbu cut the deficit with a goal in the 28th minute when the unmarked striker slammed home from the box. Jhapa returned into the match in the 68th minute when MMC defender Bimal Basnet scored into his own nets while trying to clear the ball.
At a time when Jhapa players were pushing hard for the equaliser, Bishal Rai restored MMC’s two-goal cushion when he found the back of the nets in the 77th minute. Limbu scored his second goal of the match two minutes later but that could not avert the Jhapa’s defeat. MMC’s Sujal Shrestha won the man-of-the-match award and Rs 10,000.
MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung said his boys failed to put up their natural game. “We could not perform to our potential but we won the match as the players converted the chances that came their way,” said Gurung.
Jhapa coach Prabesh Katuwal blamed the lack of coordination among the players. “We had a couple of foreign recruits and the team members could not establish proper coordination in the match,” Katuwal said.