By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu – Tribhuvan Army Football Club entered the semifinal of the 20th Aaha Rara Gold Cup on Tuesday defeating five-time champions Three Star Club at Pokhara Stadium.
Army edged past Three Star by a slim margin of 1-0 to set up a semifinal date against Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC). Substitute forward Rajiv Gurung scored a second-half goal to help army reach the semifinal. He scored within seven minutes after entering the field.
Earlier, Army failed to take the lead in the eighth minute when George Prince Karki’s shot in a one-versus-one situation was saved by Three Star goalkeeper Preso. In the 22nd minute, Mikchen Tamang’s shot from outside the penalty box hit the post and deflected out.
Karki was on target once again in the 43rd minute but his free-kick was brought under control by Preso. Another powerful set piece shot from 25 yards by Karki was punched away by Preso in the 63rd minute to deny army from taking the lead.
However, Army’s persistence paid off when substitute forward Gurung made the breakthrough in the 70th minute which turned out to be the decisive goal. Army was lucky to get the goal when Three Star’s last defender Jeevan Gurung slipped in a flip from Karki. Rajeev Gurung grabbed the opportunity and scored from 35 yards while goalkeeper Preso moved forward to grab the ball. Rajiv Gurung had replaced Tanka Basnet in the 64th minute.
Army will now face MMC on Thursday to secure a place in the final. MMC made it to the semifinal after defeating Police 2-0. With the completion of this match, the semifinal lineup of the tournament has been completed. APF will lock horns with Machhindra FC in the first semifinal on Wednesday.
A total of 10 teams including 8 from the A Division League have been registered for the Aaha Rara Gold Cup. The winner of the tournament will bag a purse of Rs 1 million while the runnerup will receive Rs 501,000. The cost of organizing the event is expected to reach Rs 10.06 million.
The event is being organized since the last 21 years. The surplus amount collected from the tournament will be provided to the Surya Bahadur Memorial Sahara Football Academy. The academy is currently training the third batch of 24 children from 14 different district. The children have been receiving training, education and health facilities free of cost since the last eight years.