Thursday, May 23

Jhapa FC and Birgunj United share points in a bottom-table clash

Sudesh Baniya, Kathmandu

In a match fraught with missed opportunities, Jhapa FC and Birgunj United played out a goalless draw, deterring either team climb from the bottom of the table.

Oriol Segura’s actions on the touchline did not vary much. The Jhapa FC head coach was demanding more balls through the midfield, even more so after his side were reduced to ten men just before the 75th minute.

The game started with Jhapa FC showing an aggressive edge, caught offside four times within the first ten minutes, and had a relatively livelier presence on the opposition half.

Despite the pressure, it wasn’t until the 11th minute that Jhapa FC made a significant strike, with Samandar Ochilov meeting a grounded corner off Laxman Ruchal, only for the chance to go begging.

Ochilov, the 28-year-old former Kenkre defender, was a continuous threat, as evidenced by his strike in the 20th minute from the left that rattled the far post. Birgunj’s first attempt came in the 16th minute when Obed Osuwu could not connect properly and nestled above the bar.

Ruchal’s corners in the 18th and 35th minute caused trouble for Birgunj’s defense, but it was Deep Karki who kept the scoreline neutral with a series of saves, including a vital one off his legs in the 32nd minute. It was Spanish striker Jorge Peiaez Sanchez who was at the receiving end for the most part, yet failed to make them count, with shots either straight to the keeper or cleared by defenders.

Birgunj United, despite increased aggression in the second half, could not capitalize on limited chances, the major one including the 74th-minute sendoff of Yogesh Gurung for denying Opoku a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Despite being a man down, Jhapa FC continued to press, with Tej’s freekick in the 89th minute and Ujwal Rai’s attempt in injury time – the latter one coming off the woodwork.

The Elephants, Jhapa, have moved to three points from four matches with one loss and three draws so far to sit eighth on the table. The only team below them, Birgunj, have two points from four matches, losing two and drawing two.

Jhapa FC, with just one goal in the tournament so far, will take on Butwal Lumbini FC, hoping to leave the bottom spot behind, whereas Birgunj United will look to win their first game of the campaign against Sporting Ilam de Mechi in their next fixture.

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