Pokhara, January 19, 2017:Â Dharan Football Club edged Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club 1-0 in extra time to enter the quarter-finals of the 15th Aaha-Rara Gold Cup football tournament here at the Pokhara Stadium on Wednesday.
Deepak Rai scored in the 107th minute to give Dharan second victory in their 14th appearance at the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup. On Thursday, Jhapa XI will take on ANA USA, a visiting team formed by Nepalese footballers residing in America.
The first notable move of the match came from Dharan in the third minute when APF custodian Amrit Chaudhary had to flex his arms to save a powerful shot from Gilson Kandangwa. Five minutes later, Shyam Nepali failed to score in a rebound. Both sides had few chances in the first half but failed to find the back of the net.
The second half looked drab except for the 78th minute when APF goalie Chaudhary once again rescued his side denying Bartaman Rai in a one-versus-one situation as the teams headed into the 30-minute extra time locked goalless.
Dharan had lost their previous match against APF in tie breaker in the fourth edition. However, Rai assured there was not going to be a repeat this time scoring on a cross from Bartaman with three minutes left in the game.
Dharan coach Subhash KC was not satisfied with the hard-fought win against APF side that was depleted by the absence of their playmaker Anjan Bista who is currently in Spain playing for the Marbella United FC. â€œWe didnâ€™t have enough practice time. We had called upon Deepak (Rai) and Bijay (Dhimal) just for this tournament and it was quite evident that we couldnâ€™t set the game properly,â€ said KC. KC said his side will be a better side after returning to the field three days later for the last eight clash.
APF coach Kumar Thapa accepted the defeat with grace. â€œOur boys were doing well in the first half but the second period was very sluggish. We didnâ€™t have Anjan in the squad and his absence was clearly felt. I take this defeat in an ordinary way because we didnâ€™t have a huge number of experienced players,â€ said Thapa.