Pokhara, January 29, 2017:Â Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) completed a successful defense of the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup defeating hosts Sahara 1-0 in the final of the 15th edition here at the Pokhara Stadium on Saturday.
Kamal Shrestha scored the winner to hand MMC the fifth title of what is known as one of the reputed knockout tournaments organised outside Kathmandu valley. It was also MMCâ€™s second title inside two weeks having previously won the Khaptad Gold Cup in Dhangadi on January 15. Along with the title, MMC got Rs 500,000 and runners-up Sahara took home Rs 250,000.
The victory was also a sweet revenge for MMC who were beaten by the same scoreline by Sahara in the final of the 12th edition. After a goalless first half, Shrestha scored the decider converting a 30-yard shot leaving Sahara goalkeeper Shojit Gurung down and out in the 70th minute. The scorer was later adjudged the man-of-the-match.
MMC coach Chhiring Lhopsang Gurung said his side fought out an evenly-contested battle. â€œWe were not able to score in the first half because Sahara were defensive most of the times. So we had to devise a new strategy for the game. We got the second half goal and ultimately the victory but it was not easy win for us,â€ said Gurung.
Sahara coach Kiran Shrestha lauded the performance of his boys. â€œWe had one shot hitting the woodworks in the first half. But the way our boys fought against a strong team like MMC was really appreciating,â€ said Shrestha who had said that his game-plan would be to prevent MMC from scoring under any circumstances.
MMC created several scoring chances in the first half but they were either denied by Sahara defenders or goalkeeper Gurung. The first notable attack from Sahara came in the ninth minute when Laxman GCâ€™s header on a free kick from Heman Gurung hit the woodworks. MMC were close to taking the lead in the 22nd minute but Sujal Shresthaâ€™s shot from the area went inches wide off the post.
After conceding the goal in the second goal, Sahara were left pondering for scoring options and they resorted to Heman for an 80th minute freekick but the strikerâ€™s shot missed by a whisker.
Saharaâ€™s Shojit Gurung was named the best player and goalkeeper award, while MMCâ€™s Sujal Shrestha and Kamal Shrestha were named the best midfielder and defender respectively. Shiva Subedi of the hosts was named the best striker and Karna Limbu of Jhapa was the highest scorer. Sahara coach walked away with best coach award and Jhapa XI took the Fair Play honour. The winners got Rs 15,000 each.
ByÂ Bhim Ghimire