Jhapa XI vs Army Club has been postponed

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All Nepal Football Association announced that the Red Bull National League between Jhapa XI and Army Club has been postponed for tomorrow (Friday) as the playing ground at Domalal has been deemed unplayable by the referee assessor and match commissioner due to heavy rainfall.

Team managers and coaches have all agreed to hold the match tomorrow. The match was scheduled for today in Domalal Rajbanshi Stadium at 3 PM.

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All three matches end in draws

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All three matches of the Red Bull National League on Monday ended with draws with high flying Jhapa XI FC playing 1-1 stalemate with Far Western Football Club (FWFC) and star-studded Three Star Club and Nepal Police Club settling for 2-2 draw at separate venues.

Jhapa, which earned only two points from three matches since the league resumed on September 14, came from behind to reclaim the top spot by one point at its home ground in Jhapa. After playing 11 matches, Jhapa has 18 points, one point ahead of second-placed Tribhuvan Army Club and two ahead of third-place Three Star Club, with both teams having two-match advantage over the leader. FWFC climbed two spots to fourth with 14 points from 11 matches.
At the ANFA ground Stadobato, Three Star squandered its lead twice. It could have moved atop the standings with victory over injury-plagued departmental opponent. But the result left the Patan-based team in third position and Police on seventh position with nine points. Both Three Star and Police have played nine matches each.

Meanwhile, Laxman Ruchal salvaged a draw for visiting Lumbini FC during a 1-1 stalemate against Morang FC at Laxmi Marga, Morang in the contest of the bottom two teams. Lumbini, with eight points, sits second from the bottom, two points ahead of Morang, after playing equal 11 matches each. Laxman netted in the 83rd minute to cancel Sumit Khadka's 51st minute lead for Morang.

Three Star and Nepali national team skipper Sagar Thapa put the Patan-based team ahead in the 37th minute in the match marred by refereeing controversy. Sagar's 35-yard low drive left Police goalie Ritesh Thapa, still nursing an injury, motionless as it entered the back of the net.

Police skipper Jumanu Rai leveled the score five minutes later capitalizing on a defensive error of Bishnu Sunwar sending the ball past inattentive goalie Kiran Chemjong. Bishnu was sent off in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card.

The heroic save of Police custodian Ritesh in the 63rd minute prevented Three Star from scoring second goal. Ritesh also denied three consecutive attempts from Bijay Gurung, Nirajan Khadka and Jagjeet Shrestha.

Three Star restored the lead in the 69th through a controversial penalty after Santosh Sahukhala, a second-half replacement of Olawala Afeez, stumbled while vying for the ball with goalie Ritesh inside the zone. Referee Bikash Mahat decided to award penalty which prompted Police players to protest the decision. However, referee Mahat remained firm on his decision after discussion with the fourth official Sudish Pandey.

Substitute Yogesh Shrestha restored parity for Police in the 83rd when he collected Jumanu's penalty which rebounded after smashing the bar and Three Star players failed to clear in properly.

Three Star coach Rajendra Tamang said that defensive errors cost two vital points for his team. His counterpart Birat Krishna Shrestha of Police revealed that he was forced to field injured goalie Ritesh due to poor performance of second-choice goalkeeper in the last match.

At the Domalal Stadium, Jhapa, Bishal Rai netted equalizer in the 75th to cancel FWFC's 65th minute lead taken through Shiva Subedi. Backed by huge home supporters, Jhapa dominated ball possession and created as many as a dozen scoring chances. But the home team failed to achieve the target against the opponent studded with eight players of the U-19 team, which was crowned the champions of recently held SAFF U-19 Championship. U-19 skipper Bimal Gharti Magar also plays for FWFC.

Jhapa coach Bhagirath Ale said that his team failed to achieve all three points due to lack of proper coordination among players.

There won't be any match of the league on Tuesday and Wednesday.

content/photo: republica

Army tops the league standings

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Tribhuvan Army Club climbed atop the standings of the Red Bull National League football tournament on Sunday after a second half goal from Tek Bahadur Budathoki sealed a 1-0 win for the departmental team over Armed Police Force (APF) at the artificial turf of ANFA ground in Satdobato, Lalitpur.

Army which also maintained its undefeated run to nine matches in the league earned 17 points following fourth its win and toppled Jhapa from summit on the basis of head-to-head record. Army with a match advantage over Jhapa had earned a 1-0 win over the latter in an away match on January 27. APF remained on fourth place with 14 points after back-to-back defeats.

In the evenly-contested affair, Army's numerous attempts for goal got materialized only in the 71st minute when Tek headed Santosh Tamang's cross from the crowded zone to send the ball beyond the reach of diving APF goalie Amrit Chaudhary.

APF meanwhile wasted a golden chance to equalize in the fading moments when an unmarked Santosh Jangbu Sherpa's shot, fed by Santosh Tamang, went above the bar from close range.

Army coach Meghraj KC expressed satisfaction for winning the match. "APF is a strong team in the current scenario. It was an evenly-contested match though we created better scoring chances," KC said.

Army was without Nawayug Shrestha, who scored a hat-trick during its last match against Police, due to a match ban. Another striker Bharat Khawas shall miss the team's next match after he saw second yellow card in the injury time of the match.

APF had created a couple of scoring chances in the first half. Heman Gurung of APF hit the woodwork as early as in the sixth minute. Similarly, Army goalie Bikesh Kutu made a diving save to deny a goal-bound ball after deflection at Army defender Bikash Tamang in a cross from Man Bahadur Tamang. Army, meanwhile, created thee scoring chances in the first half and four after the break.

APF coach Krishna Thapa said that his team need not worry despite the defeat. "We still have a long way to go. Army is a title contender and luck also favored them," he summed up.

Jhapa XI stunned at home, Morang hammered by FWFC

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Bottom of the table Jagamdamba Lumbini FC stunned leaders Jhapa XI 1-0 at home to register their second win ten matches in the Red Bull National League played at the Domala Stadium, Jhapa, on Saturday.

In Morang, it was also a similar story as the home team were beaten 5-1 by Far Western Football Club who moved on level points with mighty Manag following the win.

An 18th minute goal from Purna Bahadur Gurung was enough to stun Jhapa at home, their third loss of the season. Jhapa still lead the table with 17 points from nine matches, but their position could easily be taken by Ruslan Three Star Club who are fast catching up with 15 points from just eight matches.

Jagadamba Lumbini breathed a sigh of relief following the win as they moved up the standing after quite some time at eighth with seven points from 10 matches.

The loss pushed Morang to the bottom of the table with five points from 10 matches.

Far-western, meanwhile, needed goals from Ananta Tamang (61'), Lawal (44', 85'), Janom Man Ligal (90'), Bimal Gharti Magar (90+2') to hand Morang their fifth loss of the season. Morang are the only team yet to register a win. Far-western have 13 points from 10 matches and are behind Manang at sixth.

Sumit Khadka was lone scorer for Morang in the 48th minute.

Click here for league fixtures and standings

Three Star held by Manang Marshyangdi

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Three Star Club failed to move atop the standings after it was held to 1-1 draw by archrival Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) in the Red Bull A Division National League at the ANFA ground, Satdobato on Friday.

Sujal Shrestha scored from spot for MMC in the first half to cancel Three Star's early lead, courtesy to Jagajeet Shrestha. The result left Three Star unchanged in the second position with 14 points, two behind leader Jhapa, after playing eight matches.

Three Star, with a match advantage over the leader, could have replaced Jhapa from the summit had it won the match. MMC, after its second draw in a row, remained unchanged in the fifth place with 13 points.

"The match was evenly contested and I am pleased with the way my team played. We came from behind and bagged a point," MMC coach Raju Kaji Shakya said at the post match conference. Speaking about his side's chances of winning the league, Shakya said, "The league is a long race and I cannot say where we will finish. However, we are very much in the race."

There won't be any match at ANFA on Saturday. But Jhapa will host Lumbini in Birtamod, Jhapa, and Morang will take on Far Western Football Club at its home in Dangihaat.

content/Photo: Republica