Newcomers Satdobato Youth Club and Friends Club settled for a goalless draw in the opening match of the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League that kicked off under floodlights at the Dasharath Stadium on Friday.
The kickoff was delayed by eight minutes against the international practice of football in the league, which began after a gap of a year owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The first half of the match remained a drab affair as none of the Lalitpur-based teams could muster a remarkable attempt except for a 33rd minute header by Aakash Budha Magar for Satdobato. The midfielder’s diving header from the crowded area went inches wide in captain Man Bahadur Tamang’s freekick.
But the second half turned much eventful with Satdobato piling up almost one sided pressure and coming up with some threatening attempts on goal. Friends also played with a man down in the later stage of the second half when Ronell Anthony Paul was sent off for a second yellow.
Friends’ Indian custodian Rahul Ramchandra Yadav made about half a dozen heroic saves keeping Satdobato attacks at bay. He was named the man-of-the-match.
The outcome meant, Lalitpur’s top flight debutant Satdobato and veteran Friends shared a point each.
“We deserved three points making judgments on the basis of performance. But winning a point in the very first match of the top tier match is not bad,” said Satdobato coach Meghraj KC. “Many players are playing ‘A’ Division League and at the stadium for the first time. They could not play to their strength. Had they performed to their full potential, the outcome could have been different.”
“We made about 10 attempts on goals and could have scored two or three goals. We need to take lessons from this match and make amendments in upcoming games,” he said.
In the 54th, Satdobato forward Ajayi Martin’s low header from the six-yard box missed the target by inches. In the 57th, Satdobato midfielder Budha Magar’s brilliant scorcher after dribbling past two defenders from the inner edge of the area was punched to safety by Friends glovesman Yadav.
Friends’ first threatening move came in the 59th when forward Jamoul Anthony Francois made a quick attempt under tight marking of two defenders at the far post only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar. In the 66th, Friends’ Nathaniel Jude Garcia’s strike from the area was punched to safety by Satdobato goalie Abishek Baral following a deflection on defender Segun.
In the 75th, Satdobato substitute Prashant Awasthi’s 30-yard scorcher sailed inches above the crossbar.
A minute later Friends’ defender Paul was sent off after second bookable offence on Sushil Rai. But Satdobato failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage despite controlling ball possession and playing frequently on the opponents’ half.
In the 82nd, Friends’ goalie Yadav blocked Niraj Chaudhary’s low ball strike and he kicked at the custodian’s hand in the second attempt and was shown a yellow. In the 88th, Satdobato substitute midfielder Prashant Awasthi squandered a scoring chance when he ended up passing straight at goalie Yadav’s hand from the close range.
In the fading moments, Satdobato’s Sudip Gurung’s low ball strike from outside the area was saved by diving goalie Yadav.
Friends’ coach Mrigendra Mishra said the outcome was satisfactory despite playing with a man down in the second half. “The outcome could have been different if the second half strike from Francois had not struck the woodwork,” said Mishra. He added that it was difficult to play with the newcomer team in the first match of the ‘A’ division league because they come up with spirited game.
There will be two matches on Saturday with Himalayan Sherpa Club taking on Sankata Club in the early kickoff and Chyasal Youth Club will vie with Sankata Club in the late fixture.