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High-flying Himalayan Sherpa Club (HSC) defeated 10-man Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club 2-1 to set the San Miguel Knockout Football Tournament championship clash with New Road Team (NRT) here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

Jaggajit Shrestha and Som Bahadur Malla scored to steer HSC to the final, while substitute Deepak Khadka pulled back one for the youngest departmental team. HSC, playing their first top tier tournament since the club’s formation a few years earlier, also stunned another departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) 1-0 to make it to the semi-finals.

The departmental team played the entire second half

a man down after their star midfielder Jeevan Sinkeman was sent off in the dying moments of the first half for his second bookable offence. Referee Sudish Pandey did not hesitate to book Jeevan the second time for a foul on Jaggajit. APF not only lost a man but also conceded the lead in the following freekick.

Jaggajit scored on the rebound from APF goalkeeper Samit Rajbhandari, who had saved two spot-kicks to upset Nabil Three Star Club in the quarter-finals on September 26. Rajbhandari blocked a 30-yard free-kick from Deepak Rai awarded for a Sinkeman foul but Jaggajit retrieved the ball and fired in the goal from a very awkward position.

Unmarked HSC defender Som Bahadur doubled the lead in the 79th minute on a solo effort. Deepak Khadka reduced the deficit for APF in the 86th minute but by then it was too late for them to force an extra time. Deepak headed home a Ganesh Lawoti cross.

Himalayan Sherpa coach Upendra Man Singh praised the way his players performed in the match. “The result is the outcome of our players’ efforts and a sound management of the club,” said the former Nepali national team goalkeeper and skipper. “Hard work during training and a passion to win has been major factor in my boys’ excellent run in the tournament,” added Singh.

APF assistant coach Janak Singh blamed the biased referring for their loss. “The referee at least should have given warning before he booked Sinkeman, who has already shown

a yellow in the 15th minute,” said Singh. Singh also added that they lost their rhythm after the break.

Both the teams squandered quite a few scoring chances in the match. APF custodian Rajbhandari brilliantly punched a 35-yard free-kick from Deepak Rai in the 17th minute. HSC shot-stopper Rupak Shrestha — who was sacked by Friends Club over the doubts that the player had thrown a match in the Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League — judged well to block a Lawoti strike in the 37th minute.

With 1-0 down, striker Lawoti missed on a chance to level the scores for APF in the 56th minute, his shot failing to beat HSC keeper Rupak in one-on-one encounter.

HSC were also unlucky in the 62nd minute when Deepak

Rai struck the woodwork before his powerful long range shot sailed inches above the bar

in the 82nd minute. The championship match is scheduled for October 4.
Tags: Sports


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