Wednesday, July 24

MMC stun Police to reach Aaha Rara Gold Cup semis

By a Staff Reporter

Kathmandu – Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) has secured a place in the semifinal of the 20th Aaha Rara Gold Cup thanks to an outstanding performance by the club’s Nigerian forward Olawale Afeez.

MMC defeated Nepal Police Club 2-0 during their quarterfinal match held at Pokhara Stadium on Sunday to secure a last-four spot. Afeez scored a goal and made an assist to help MMC reach the semifinal.

The first half of the game ended without any goals while MMC managed to get both the goals in the second half.

Rupesh KC scored the first goal in the 64th minute to give MMC the lead. MMC capitalized on an error made by Ajit Bhandari who misjudged a back pass from Hemant Shrestha. Bhandari failed to clear the ball which Afeez set up for KC to slot in. KC managed to score the goal through three defenders and a goalkeeper.

Police missed a chance to equalize in the 84th minute when captain Jumanu Rai failed to score. MMC launched a counter-attack immediately but Police goalkeeper Sanjit Shrestha saved a powerful shot from Ashok Thapa Magar in a pass from Afeez. Ashok Pariyar’s header from a rebound skied off.

Afeez ensured MMC’s victory with the club’s second goal in the 88th minute. He snatched away the ball from Bhola Silwal from the middle of the field and was able to beat Silwal and Ajit Bhandari to score a goal as Police goalkeeper Shrestha moved ahead to block him from leaving the post unattended.

MMC will now face the winner of Tuesday’s match between Tribhuvan Army Football Club and Three Star Club. Defending Champions Sankata will take on A Division League leaders Machhindra Club in another quarterfinal match on Monday. In the first quarterfinal held on Saturday, APF defeated Bhutanese Youth Sports Club 3-1 to secure their place in the semis.

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 runner-up will receive Rs 501,000. The cost of organizing the event is expected to reach Rs 10.06 million.

The event is being organized for 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 districts. The children have been receiving training, education and health facilities free of cost for the last eight years.

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