KATHMANDU, Sept 22: Three Star Club´s hope of making it into the knockout stage suffered a blow on Saturday as it was defeated 1-0 by NIBL Friends Club after 13 years in the Ncell Cup Football Championship being held at the Dasharath Stadium, Tripureshwar.
Prakash Budathoki headed home the match winner to stun star studded Three Star which was forced to share point in the first match of group A with newcomer Iceberg Madhyapur Youth Association.
Budathoki put Friends ahead five minutes before the interval in goalie Kiran Chemjong´s rebounder off Ritesh Malla´s header in a cross supplied by Jagjeet Shrestha.
The win was the first for Friends over Three Star since National League qualifiers in 1999. In the semifinal of the qualifiers, Friends had defeated Three Star 1-0.
Three Star at the bottom of the table with one point must beat group leader Armed Police Force (APF) in its last match and wait for the results of other matches to determine its chance in the knockout stage. APF which defeated Friends in its opening match led the table with equal three points. Third placed Madhyapur has one point. Both Madhyapur had APF has played only one match.
Three Star with five Nepali international put in a lackluster show failing to utilize a couple of scoring opportunities and one man advantage during the last 12 minutes.
Friends and national skipper Sagar Thapa was sent off for second bookable offence in the 87th minute. The match commission showed nine minutes as injury time at the end of second half.
Three Star´s Anil Ojha (white) and NIBL Friends Club Sujan Thapa vie for ball. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
Bijay Gurung twice squandered scoring chances in either half for Three Star. Gurung missed one-on-one chance with Friends goalie Birendra Chand. Three Star´s African player Sunday Eze also hit wide in the first half after beating goalie Chand.
Friends failed to take 32nd minute lead after Divas Gurung under tight marking of Three Star defender failed to connect properly a cross of Jagjeet Shrestha, sending the ball far wide. In the 63rd minute, Shrestha hit fare wide in an open net after Three Star´s keeper Chemjong tripped over and dropped ball in the area.
Friends coach Dilkarji Gurung said, "It was a do or die match. The boys played well and the luck also favored us," Gurung said, adding that the forward line up needs improvement.
Three Star coach Meghraj KC said the team failed to play as set team and that his side had a very low chance of making it into the next stage. Three Star player Sunday EG tries to control ball while NIBL Friends Club players Santosh Tamang( Left) and Sujan Thapa struggle to foil his attempt. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
Bouddha edges past Jawalakhel
In the day´s kick off match, a penalty goal during the fading minutes earned Bouddha FC 1-0 win over Samsung Jawalakhel Club in their first match of the group stage.
Govinda Thapa earned winner for Bauddha through spotkick in the last minute of stoppage time to stun Jawalakhel that is trying to recover from the departure of more than half a dozen of its key players. Bouddha was awarded penalty after Nabin Gurung fouled Suman Lama in the area.
Earlier, Bauddha was unlucky in the 54th minute as Lama´s powerful strike from outside the area hit upright.