By Rajarshi Chakrabarty
Ajayi Martins first-half strike in the additional time of first half was enough to separate the two sides in a hotly contested game where tempers were flying in the final on Saturday.
In the closely fought game, both teams went in with a lot of aggression and purpose and Nepal Police Club had a psychological advantage having beaten Three Stars Club a week before in the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup in Pokhara.
Nepal Police Club had some decent changes early into the game as Dinesh Bhandari came close to scoring on 7th minute and Buddha Lama’s shot was stopped by a goal-line save by the Three Stars defenders after rounding off the goalkeeper Alan Neupane.
The match from the onset had a very fast tempo as both teams looked to gain space and possession into the game and were physical at times. The match sprang into action when Nepal Police Club’s Tej Tamang’s heavy tackle on Bikram Lama send him clattering down resulting in a broken leg for the Three Star Captain, who had to be rushed to the hospital.
The heavy tackle by Tej Tamang resulted in a scuffle and pushing between the players of both teams as tempers were flying on the pitch. The referee Kabin Byanjankar had to give marching orders to Three Star’s Peter Segun and NPC captain Hem Tamang to control the game as both teams were reduced to 10-men by the half an hour mark.
As both teams looked for the elusive goal, Three star’s Ajayi Martins fired the first warning as he rattled the Nepal Police woodwork on the 47th minute to be denied by the post. Martin did not have to rue his disappointment for long as moments later he scored from a spectacular 25 yeard shot to give Three Stars a 1-0 lead into the game.
The second half saw odd chances from both teams but none of the teams failed to change the scoreline as Three Stars Club held on to the slender 1-0 lead to win their fifth Budha Subba Gold Cup Title winning six lakh NPR prize money sponsored by Red Bull.
Three Stars Coach Meghraj KC attributed the win to “hard work and ability to play under pressure” of the team while NPC Coach Ananta Thapa said “the team lost balance and shape” after being reduced to 10-men due to a red card to NPC influential player and captain Hem Tamang.
Three Stars midfielder won the highest scorer and the most valuable player (MVP) of the tournament award.