Forward Sunil Bal netted a brace against New Road Team (NRT) to give defending champions Machhindra a winning start at the Martyr’s Memorial ‘A’ Division League, ongoing at the Dasarath Rangasala. Machhindra won the match 2-1.
Defending champions Machhindra opened the scoresheet early on. Forward Sunil Bal converted an ace through ball served by midfielder Bishal Rai in the 12th minute of the game. Only a minute later, Rai missed a glorious chance at goal in a one-on-one situation.
NRT scrambled to contain Machhindra in the first quarter of the game. In the process, NRT’s Andre Biyik was booked in the 17th minute.
Machhindra were relentless. In the 22nd minute, the team could have led the match with 2 goals, but the goal scored by Abhishek Rijal was ruled offside.
Midfielder Andres Tchounkeu of Machhindra in 44 minutes received a second yellow card of the match.
In the 54th minute of the match, NRT returned one back, with midfielder Arik Bista firing a screamer in a freekick around 30 yards from the post.
Quickly afterwards, NRT goalie Ajit Prajapati made a heroic save to deny Manish Dangi. Machhindra managed to lead the match in the 80th minute, with Bal, once again, finding the back of the net.
Machhindra could have extended their lead if Bimal Gharti Magar, who entered the ground as a sub in the 79th minute, hadn’t missed a one-on-one in the 84th minute.
Speaking at the post-match conference, NRT coach, Raju Kaji Shakya, said he was satisfied with his side’s performance.
“Whatever the result is, I am satisfied with today’s match,” Shakya said. “Boys played well enough. The goal-scoring freekick is the result of continuous practice.”
Prabesh Katuwal, coach for Machhindra, blamed it on the referee for allowing a free kick to NRT. “Maybe it was the referee’s wrong decision that we conceded a goal in the freekick,” he said. “Despite playing against strong opposition, we performed well and managed to win.”