Anil Ojha scored a brace as hosts Pokhara XI eased past Bhutan Football Club 3-0 to enter the quarter-finals of the Manakamana Cable Car Pokhara Cup Football Tournament here on Friday.
Bhutan FC were making their second appearance in the tournament and for a second time in a row they were knocked out of the opening match. It was Sunil BK who gave the local side a 26th minute lead while Ojha converted his goals through penalties.
Bhutan went neck-to-neck with Pokhara in the first half but still ended up conceding two goals as they missed an opportunity in the seventh minute. BK perfectly slotted home a Rakesh Gurung cross from the edge of the area. BK was later adjudged the man-of-the-match.
Pokhara exerted more pressure on visitors after the opening goal and Bhutan were in disarray when Bibek Gurung brought down Rakesh inside the area in the 30th minute. Ojha stepped in to convert the spot kick. Bhutan missed another chance just before the completion of the first half.
Pokhara on the other hand continued to play with the same pace and missed two clear goal scoring opportunities. As the match was nearly its end, Pokhara earned another penalty in the injury time with Ojha making no mistake to convert it. Pokhara had won the spot kick after Bhutan goalkeeper Nantu Chhetri brought down Suraj BK in one-on-one encounter. Referee Laba Khatri brandished Chhetri a straight red for the dangerous tackle on BK. In a tensed final moments another Bhutan player Bikram Chhang was also sent off for using foul language against the referee. Pokhara has assembled their team including some ‘A’ Division League players.
Coach Rajendra Tamang said the hastily assembled Pokhara team affected their performance. “We had no time to let our assembled players coordinate, so we didn’t perform as expected. We were not at our best in the first half,” said Tamang. Pokhara will now meet ‘A’ Division outfit s Three Star Club in the last eight game.
Bhutan coach Prabhat Raj Gurung blamed a biased refereeing for the loss. “Win and loss are part of the game but the referee completely favoured the local side. There was no penalty in the game but he awarded it to the local team,” blamed Gurung.