Sunday, April 14

Machhindra to play AFC Asia Cup qualifiers after sinking Police

By a Staff Reporter

Kathmandu – Machhindra Football Club are all set to represent Nepal in the AFC Asia Cup Qualifiers after defeating Nepal Police Club 1-0 in their must-win match during the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League on Sunday.

Normally, it is the league champions that play the AFC Asia Cup. However, the ongoing league is not likely to complete by the time AFC Asia Cup Qualifiers begins. Therefore, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has agreed to the proposal of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) to allow the league leaders holding AFC license to participate in the qualifiers after the end of the seventh round. Machhindra are one of the four clubs that have acquired AFC license and are eligible to feature in the AFC Asia Cup.

Machhindra were under pressure to win this match after another contenders Manang Marshyangdi Club defeated Brigade Boys Club 1-0 at Pokhara Stadium on Saturday. Machhindra would not have qualified for the AFC Asia Cup Qualifiers had they lost the match against Police or settled for a draw.

Machhindra were in pole position to feature in the AFC Asia Cup qualifiers after defeating MMC 1-0 in the sixth round. It will be the first time Machhindra will be competing in the qualifiers organized by AFC. Machhindra had proved their credentials to compete in the AFC Asia Cup last season by lifting the title of Nepal’s domestic league. However, second-placed Tribhuvan Army Football Club represented Nepal in the Asian-level competition back then because Machhindra had not acquired license from AFC.

Army were the first club of Nepal to acquire AFC license. Machhindra, Manang Marshyangdi Club and APF Football Club also acquired the license last year. So, there were four contenders to compete in the AFC Asia Cup this year but Army and APF were left far behind in the race by Machhindra and MMC.

Machhindra are unbeaten till the seventh round with 17 points from seven matches. They have registered 5 wins and two draws.

Deciding goal of Sunil

During Sunday’s match against Police, Sunil Bal scored the deciding goal in the first half to ensure that Machhindra compete in the AFC Asia Cup at the expense of MMC. An unmarked Sunil scored a header in a free kick from Bishal Rai in the 21st minute to seal the victory. This is his fifth goal in the ongoing league.

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