POKHARA, Nov 7: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) inched closer to the title of the Safal Pokhara Cup Football Tournament on Wednesday after a lone goal from Sujal Shrestha sealed the team´s 1-0 win over New Road Team (NRT) in the first semifinal of the event in Pokhara, Kaski.
Shrestha scored for MMC in the early fourth minute which turned to be the decisive goal. Shrestha headed from the area in a cross of Amir Shrestha.
With the victory, MMC, the winner of recently held Ncell Cup in Kathmandu, also continued its unbeaten run up to eight matches.
MMC will lock horns with the winner of second semifinal -- Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club and Machhindra Club -- in the final to be played on Saturday. The second semifinal will be played on Thursday.
MMC looked dominant over NRT, enjoyed more ball possession and created more chances. In the 25th minute, Nirajan Malla missed doubling goal advantage in Sabindra Shrestha pass.
Three minutes later, Mbile Leonle Stephne´s strike after beating NRT custodian Raju Yogi sailed inches above the bar. In the 50th minute, goalie Yogi denied MMC skipper Anil Gurung´s strike after the goalie dropped Amir Shrestha´s shot. Zambo Anatole of MMC was declared the man-of-the-match
NRT looked inferior and could not come up with an impressive show. The only remarkable post attack for MMC came in the 32nd minute through skipper Laxman Ruchal´s freekick but goalie Immanuel denied it.
NRT coach Diken Suwal said that his side was defeated due to poor midfield. "Midfield is the backbone of the game but it could not function properly," said Suwal adding, "I can´t be satisfied with Skipper Ruchal´s and midfield´s performance." Suwal also said that the team came under pressure after conceding an early goal.
MMC coach Krishna Thapa who also maintained his unbeaten run after his debut in club football a few months earlier said the opponents did not got chance to score due to good understanding among his players despite low scoring of his side.
"If the opponent strikes were as efficient as ours the outcome might have been different. But my boys came up with well coordinated show and did not provide the opponent any chance of scoring," said Thapa.