Departmental side Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club on Thursday advanced to the quarter-finals of the Manakamana Cable Car Pokhara Cup with a 2-1 victory over Dharan Football Club.
At the Pokhara Stadium, skipper Ganesh Lawati gave APF a 22nd minute lead only for Dharan to stay alive in the match with an equaliser in the 42nd minute through Razz Paudel. Nabin Lama then struck the winning goal for the departmental side through freekick. Dharan will now meet Everest Football Club of Dharan next.
APF coach Krishna Thapa was not satisfied despite returning with the victory. "My boys seemed lost in the opening stages of the game. We didn't perform as expected. We have to work hard in our next match," said Thapa.
After struggling to find their feet in the first 15 minutes, APF managed to find the back of the net in a perfect manner. Santosh Shrestha set the ball for Lawati inside the box and the skipper slammed home with an acrobatic shot.
The goal woke up Dharan from their slumber and they upped the ante soon. Their hard work paid off when Paudel headed home a cross from Hemanta Thapa Magar.
The momentum shifted and it was Dharan who kept on piling pressure against APF after the break. However, APF scored against the run of play through a 36-yard freekick from Lama.
APF were rewarded the freekick after Dharan's Niraj Basnet was adjudged to have tripped Lawati. Dharan tried their best to level the game but all their efforts went in vain. Ranjan Bista of APF was named man-of-the-match.
Dharan coach Deepak Rai said his team was unable to cope up with the busy domestic schedule. "We came here after competing in the recently concluded Falgunanda Gold Cup in Fidim. Our players were exhausted and to compete against a fit team like APF was a tough assignment. I am still happy with the way our boys played," said Rai.