In a heart-stopping turn of events, the Three Star Club, three-time champions, have secured their position in the premier division, thanks to a last-minute victory over the Jawalakhel Youth Club. This victory in the final match of the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League has unfortunately led to the relegation of the APF Football Club to the second division. The match, held at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday, was a testament to the unpredictable nature of football.
A Must-Win Match for Three Star Club
The Three Star Club entered the match with a clear objective - win or face relegation. The tension reached its peak in the 81st minute when captain Bikram Lama, a former Jawalakhel player, was tripped inside the penalty area by Pramin Shrestha. This prompted referee Nabindra Maharjan to award a penalty. Lama, who was playing his last professional game, took the penalty and successfully scored, ensuring the survival of his team.
The Impact on APF Football Club
The result was a significant blow to the APF Football Club, which dropped to 13th place. The Three Star Club, on the other hand, climbed four spots to ninth in the 14-team standings, which led to the relegation of the bottom two teams to the second division. Despite finishing with equal points as the 12th placed Friends Club, APF found themselves behind due to their head-to-head record. This marks the first time APF has been relegated to the second tier since their induction into the 'A' division of the Nepali football pyramid in the 2005-06 season.
Other Matches and Standings
In another match, the defending champions Machhindra Club overcame an early deficit to end their league campaign with a 3-1 victory over Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC). Despite finishing second, Machhindra will represent Nepal in the 2023-24 preliminary qualifiers for the AFC Cup, as the league champions Church Boys United (CBU) were ineligible due to not having obtained the AFC Club license.
The Sankata Club and New Road Team (NRT) ended their match in a 1-1 draw at the Chyasal Stadium in Lalitpur. The result lifted NRT to sixth place, while Sankata finished 10th.
The final day of the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League was filled with high-stakes drama and unexpected outcomes. The Three Star Club's last-minute victory and the APF Football Club's relegation to the second division were the highlights of the day. As the dust settles, the teams will now prepare for the next season, with the lessons learned from this season fresh in their minds.