KATHMANDU, April 24: Two-time runner-up Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) set up a semifinal showdown with with Nepal Police Club after defeating Friends Club 1-0 on Tuesday in the last quarterfinal of British Gorkha Cup Football Tournament at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
After a tepid first half, Nepali international Anil Gurung gave the lead to MMC four minutes after the break with a diving header from the area. Gurung had received a headed pass from African recruit Mbile Leonel Stephen in Sujal Shrestha´s corner kick.
The first half of the match was a dull affair with only one attempt on goal for MMC. But MMC made as many as half-a-dozen attempts in the second half.
"We had problems scoring despite putting enormous pressure on the opponent," MMC coach Devendra Jung Shahi said during the post-match conference. "Nevertheless, we are now getting closer to the title."
Friends, without any big names of Nepali football, looked helpless throughout the match and failed to make even a single attempt on goal. Friends coach Shree Ram Shrestha did not attend the post-match conference.
Gurung missed three chances for MMC in the second half. In the 64th minute, Gurung failed to beat Friends goalie Lucky Karki in a one-on-one situation after dribbling around two defenders. Three minutes later, Gurung fired high above the bar from the area with only custodian Karki to beat.
The Friends glovesman made some more heroic saves to deny MMC a huge-margin victory. In the 75th minute, Karki made two quick diving saves to prevent Sulav Maskey´s close-range strike after slipping in his first attempt. Three minutes later, Karki also blocked Sameer Limbu´s powerful strike from the arch of the area.
In the 80th minute, Karki made a brilliant save to stop Stephen´s header in a freekick taken by second-half substitute Bikash Singh Chhetri. In the 84th minute, Anatole Thierry Zambo fired inches wide from the post.
MMC coach Shahi said the team does not have a matching partner for forward Gurung. "We have a few forwards, but many of them are young and do not match Gurung´s prowess. Actually we don´t have a second striker after Gurung."
Meanwhile, ANFA has hiked the ticket prices for the semifinal and final matches to be played under floodlights. The prices of both VIP and ordinary tickets have been increased by Rs 200 each to Rs 500 and 300 respectively. All three matches will kick off at 6 pm.
Three Star will take on Himalayan Sherpa Club in the first semifinal on Wednesday while Nepal Police Club will lock horns with MMC on Thursday for a place in the final.