By Anjan Khadka,Kathmandu, June 7: Church Boys United has been crowned with the title of the Martyr's Memorial A Division League after playing a goalless draw against Three Star Club at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu, Tuesday.
With the title victory, Church Boys became the second team to win the first division league in the debut. In its remarkable journey to top-flight football, the club won a third and second-division title in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
The eight-time league champion Manang Marsyangdi Club is the first team to lift the titles of first, second and third division in regular three seasons.
Before winning the A Division League in 2043 BS, Manang had won other lower leagues in the regular season.
Church Boys needed just one point against the neighbour Three Star to lift its maiden A Division League title. The dour draw against its city rival helped Church Boys amass 45 points and maintain its lead at the top of the table.
Defending Champions Machhindra FC trails in the second position with 39 points with two matches in hand. Machhindra’s dream to clinch three consecutive league titles is over as it lost its battle against the current champions in a head-to-head.
Debutant Church Boys tops the league standings, even if Machhindra equals the points by winning the remaining two matches and the champion loses its last match.
Bal Gopal Maharjan’s Church Boys held Machhindra to a goalless draw in the first leg and defeated the White Lions 2-1 in the second leg of the league.
Church Boys registered 12 wins, played nine draws and conceded four defeats in the 44th edition of the Martyr’s Memorial A Division. The club became the 16th team to win the top-tier league of Nepal.
Established in 2066 BS at Balkumari, Lalitpur, Church Boys spent its first three years playing in different knock-out tournaments in Mofussil. Club participated in the C Division Qualifiers in 2019 and got promoted to the C Division in the same year. The rest is history.
Bal Gopal also lifted the A Division league title for the first time as a coach. He also had won it once as a player.
Bal Gopal said that the title was a gift for him as a coach since the likes of Anant Tamang and Anjan Bista were part of the academy setup where he was a coach.
"With those players, I won SAFF U19 Championship in 2015, Bangabandhu Gold Cup, the South Asian Games gold medal and others. This title is very special for me because I have won many titles in my 15-year-long career but this one is very special for me."
"Everything I've achieved in my career is due to my players. Moreover, this league was different because we have to play a double round," Coach Maharjan added.
Anant Tamang was delighted to win the maiden league title as a captain. "I am glad to win the league title for the first time. I was confident about winning the title while signing with Church Boys. This is my first title as captain and player too. I would like to dedicate this to my supporters."
One of the key players of the champion club, Anjan Bista thanked Club for good management.
"We are in a comfort zone after the arrival of Coach Bal Gopal Maharjan in the mid of the league. We all gave our best to achieve this milestone. We are under pressure after playing draws in the six matches but we gained momentum after beating my former club Manang," Bista said.
After a goalless draw, Three Star is still under pressure to survive in the league. Three Star stays in the 12th spot with 29 points.
Police move to third
Elsewhere, Nepal Police Club played a 1-1 draw against Tribhuwan Army Football Club at ANFA Complex to move to the third spot with 38 points. Army moved to seventh place with 31 points.
Dinesh Henjan put Army ahead in the second minute while the Police cancelled it out from Ahmadhijazi's goal in the 39th minute.
Jawalakhel Youth Club missed to provisionally go to second place following a 0-1 defeat against Satdobato Youth Club.
Satdobato garnered 35 points to remain unmoved in fifth place behind Jawalakhel, which sits at fourth with 37 points.
A solitary goal from Sardorbek Matmuratov in the 74th minute was enough to make the difference in the match between Jawalakhel and Satdobato in the evening match held at Dashrath Stadium.
FC Khumaltar registered a comfortable 3-1 victory over the APF Football Club at Chyasal Stadium to revive its hopes of staying in the first division.
The victory lifted Khumaltar one position above the bottom place with 27 points. APF remained in ninth place with 30 points.
Messouke Oloumou netted a brace while Stephane Binong contributed one goal for the winning side. Sanish Shrestha scored a consolation goal for APF.
Messouke opened an account for Khumaltar in the 13th minute through a free kick. He scored a stunning free-kick goal from the centre of the pitch.
Messouke doubled the tally for Khumaltar in the 45+3 minutes in the second attempt after his first strike rebound hitting APF's goalie Raju Yogi.
With a brace, Messouke took his goal tally to 18 in the league and stayed behind Olawale Afeez in the second place on the top scorer’s chart.
Stephane sealed the match for Khumaltar in the 50th minute, making the score 3-0 for the winning side. Sanish headed a consolation goal for victim APF in the dying minute of the match connecting the cross of skipper Nabin Lama.