POKHARA, Feb 11: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) clinched the title of 10th Aha Gold Cup Football Tournament on Saturday as the first major title of the season. MMC defeated Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club 2-0 in the final played at the Pokhara Stadium, Pokhara.
Skipper Shiva Shrestha and Sulav Maskey scored one apiece for MMC in the second half as MMC took home the title of Aha Gold Cup after seven years which turned out to be its third Aha title.
The runner up of last edition, MMC was earlier crowned as champion during the second edition in 2060 BS and third edition in 2061 BS. Jawalakhel was contesting in the tournament for the first time.
As the champion, MMC was awarded with the cash prize of Rs 200,000 along with shield, medals and certificates while runner up Jawalakhel had to satisfy with Rs 100,000.
To put the team in charge, skipper Shrestha headed cross of Ram Thapa in the 61st minute. Similarly, Maskey, the 58th minute replacement of Samir Limbu, ensured the team´s victory with an injury time goal.
In the competitive match, both the teams had created some beautiful scoring chances but failed to utilize them. Amir Shrestha squandered scoring opportunity twice, in 20th and 55th minute, both in Yugal Kishor Rai´s pass.
For Jawalakhel, Bishal Rai´s (jersey no 9) powerful strike went off the target. Similary, Suraj Thing´s strike in an hour mark off Mbile Leonel Stephen´s freekick was denied by MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha. In the 76th minute, Karna Limbu fired above bar.
Jawalakhel´s coach Kishor KC said that his team was defeated due to weaknesses in midfield. "The preparation for final was not sufficient and the finishing was also poor," KC said adding, “midfield also could not play up to expectations." He also lamented for not being able to win the title despite putting a good show.
KC´s counterpart Hari Om Shrestha of MMC said that his side was able to lift the title after the team was set gradually. "In the beginning we faced problem in team setting, but it was set gradually," Shrestha said who was full of praise for his African defender Zambo Anatole.
Jawalakhel´s Bishal Rai A (jersey no 10) was declared the best player. He was awarded Yamaha motorbike. Rai said that the award shall motivate him to perform better in future.
Karna Limbu won the highest scorer award. Rai, who had scored six goals in the tournament, was given a cash prize of Rs 15,000. Similarly, best players in four different positions -- goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and forward -- and best coach were awarded with Rs 10,000 apiece. Pune FC took home the fair play award.