Saturday, May 18

Lalitpur crowned new champions of the Nepal Super League 

Sudesh Baniya, Kathmandu

From the very first minute of what was supposed to be a clash of characters, it was obvious that the side with the most efficient switches would win. As Lalitpur City FC came from behind against Dhangadhi FC to clinch their first Nepal Super League title, scoring three, all five goals of the match came from significant contributions from the wings.

In front of a capacity crowd at the Dasharath stadium, Dhangadhi were quick to make their intent obvious – launching attacks predominantly from the left using Ahmed Hijazi to their advantage. 

Backed by Ashish Chaudhary, the approach to exploit spaces left behind by Lalitpur’s flying fullback, Sanish Shrestha, came to fruition in the 38th minute. Collecting a long ball off Ashish, Hijazi was quick to beat three defenders on the way to force a save off Jeffrey Baltus – a ball that eventually ended up in a plate for Olawale Afeez to score. 

Lalitpur’s saving grace came in the form of a freekick in the last kick of the first 45 minutes off Imoh Ezequiel’s boots. Capitalizing on a fragile wall, Imoh beat Mohamad Taha at the near post to level the playing field for the second half. 

It was a breeze for Lalitpur from there on. Just five minutes into the second half, Sesehang Angdembe pulled out a moment of magic to turn and find Aditya Shakya on the left – a move that had been cooking since the early first half. Dinesh Henjan met Aditya’s ball to make it 2-1 and what followed was a euphoric celebration as if the grind of playing four matches within a week – and winning all of them –  had all come to fruition.

The moment that all but secured Lalitpur’s claim to the title was a fitting one. Limping from multiple bookings, notably Richard Agyemang conceding an early yellow card having had to deal with repeated Papa Kebe’s runs. 

Ananta Tamang’s block to deny Ashish Chaudhary’s shot acted as an opportunity to switch, which the Lalitpur captain took well to find Papa in the middle. The French attacker, pulling tricks out of his books, beat two defenders on the middle to switch towards the left, which ultimately saw an acrobatic finish from Imoh to end on the back of the net. Things got worse with Richard’s sending off later in the second half. 

Ahmed Hijazi’s late consolation header came a bit too late for the side chasing the dreams of bettering the silver medal from last season. After all, it also came after a period of blunt attacks from Dhangadhi which seemed to cause little to no harm to the settled Lalitpur defense. 

As the final whistle rang, it was all clear – despite the toll, it was the side with momentum and more appetite, alongside adaptations that carried the crown home.

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