Last-gasp Ndabila penalty sends Sahara through to quarters
POKHARA, Jan 25: Yona Elias Ndabila scored the only goal of the match from the spot in the dying minutes as host Sahara Club edged past NMB Machhindra Club 1-0 on Friday to secure berth in the quarterfinals of Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament being held in Pokhara.
Machhindra´s Shuvam Shrestha pulled down Ndabila in the danger zone in the 88th minute and Yona kept his cool to convert the penalty. Ndabila, who had played for Saraswati Youth Club, is the highest scorer of the ongoing Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League with 16 goals.
Earlier, Machhindra midfielder Prabesh Katuwal´s 25-yard shot went just wide in the 11th minute of the match while Sahara goalkeeper Ajit Prajapati blocked Saurav Magar´s 30-yard free-kick in the 82nd minute.
On the other hand, a 30-yard free-kick taken by Sahara´s Michael Ntisefe sailed above the bar in the 18th minute while Machhindra goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar blocked Buddha Lama´s shot in the 29th minute.
Machhindra´s Karna Limbu was adjudged man-of-the-match.
Sahara has recruited players from Mahindra Bansbari FC, Simrik Saraswati Youth Club, Bauddha FC and Madhyapur Youth Association for the tournament. Among them, five are foreign players.
On the other hand, Machhindra was without its regular players Bishal Rai A, Bishal Rai B and Deepak Rai as the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has selected them for the national team training camp.
"We missed the key players in the match," said Machhindra coach Raju Shakya. "We tried to adjust some inexperienced players in the set squad and it created some problems in coordination," he added.
"The result could have been the opposite had we taken the match to extra time. Instead, we conceded a penalty in the last minute. That small mistake cost us dearly," said Shakya.
Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha said his team faced problems in scoring as it was the first match and the team is yet to set properly. "As we have assembled players from different clubs, we are yet to find our rhythm. We´ll definitely put up a better performance in the next round," said Shrestha. "Machhindra was a good team," he added.
Sahara will take on Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club in the quarterfinal.
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