Nepal and International Football

Football Captain ‘Super Excited’ to play at Dasharath Stadium after six years

KATHMANDU: The Nepali national football team is playing its first match in the Three Nations Cup today against Kyrgyzstan U-23. When the Nepali national team takes to the field at Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor at 5:30 PM, there will be a pleasant rainfall in the drought of international football created at home for the last six years.

Football is the most popular sport in Nepal and synonymous with Nepali football is Dasharath Stadium. In March 2015, Nepal played its last international match against India in the World Cup qualifiers at the stadium. However, the stadium, which was destroyed by the devastating earthquake in April of that year, took four years to rebuild. Then, for almost two years, the COVID pandemic prevented football from taking place in the stadium. Finally, after the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) started the competition by organizing the Three Nations Cup, the six-year drought is coming to an end.

Post-earthquake, a new chapter of international football is starting in the stadium. Goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong, who has been given the responsibility of captaining the Nepali team for the same new chapter, says that he is ‘super excited’ for today’s game. Kiran, who is in India for professional football, arrived in Nepal on Monday. Kiran, who practiced with the national team in the stadium today, shared with the audience their enthusiasm, passion and plans of the entire team for today’s game: 

“We are ‘super excited’ to play in Dasharath Rangashala after so many years. It has been almost 6 years since we could not play in front of the supporters’ crowd at Dasharath Stadium. So, ‘Super Excited’.

Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh are equally good teams. I always say Bangladesh is a good team. Every time we play, Bangladesh is very competitive. So we don’t ‘underestimate’ anyone. And we are ready to face both teams.

It was very difficult for the coach to choose the team. Because it is very challenging to obtain a ‘squad’. We receive abuse on a lot of things. Criticism on social media needs to be tolerated. Fans have their favorite players, but the final squad must be announced in which may not be everyone’s favourite player.

The coach has chosen the best team. No one has been harmed personally.

This should be accepted by all of us and the fans. I am confident that they have made the team consisting of the ‘best of the best’ players.

The coach has been closely observing for the last 6 months and has made a choice based on that. Football is always a competition, mere name and fame is not enough, good performance must also be given.

So I don’t think any players are missing. Probably everyone has ups and downs in performance. We have to accept that.

I have also been playing football regularly, and the players in Nepal have been in regular practice since November. And I am ready to give my best. I support the team. I will give a ‘performance’ according to my ability.

I had a dream of playing for the national team since childhood. But, I never thought that I would become the captain and lead the team. It really is all about time. 

We must move forward with time. And, today, given the opportunity to lead the national team and grow, I must accept that and do everything I can to support the team.” 

Similarly, Coach Bal Gopal Maharjan says that he is ready for the first game and has formed the required team. Popular and expected players like Nawayug Shrestha, Bikhas Khawas, Bishal Shrestha, Ashish Lama and others are not part of the squad, as players have been selected on the basis of performance only, according to the coach. 

“We also watched the game between Kyrgyzstan U-23 and Bangladesh, we still thought of Kyrgyzstan U-23 at a higher level. However, it did not look like that in the game against Bangladesh.

It could be because this is the first game. Therefore, in the game against Kyrgyzstan U-23, we do not play by ‘underestimating’.

I am confident that the result will be in our favour even if the team preparing for the World Cup plays just as they did in the practice game.

However, we are not considering any team considered weak. They should have played at a higher level than yesterday, but that could be because it is the first game.

They have ‘do or die’ against us, so they will come to play in ‘offensive formation’. We have to be ready for that and not lose points under any circumstances.

But, I think we will get points even if my players play at the same level they are playing right now.

There is pressure in every game, whether you win or lose. It happens before and after the game. One must have the ability to withstand the pressure.

It seems that the focus should be on the game against Kyrgyzstan. Only then will it be better to think about Bangladesh.

We have formed the team based on excellent performance during the last three months. The team is chosen according to who is excellent, who is capable, who is affordable and who the team needs. 

My technical team has a role to play in that.

This is just a friendly game to prepare for the World Cup. Now it has become the Three Nations. But ultimately, we will play in the World Cup qualifiers. There, we have to play against Australia, Jordan and the Chinese Taipei. On that basis, I have given priority to the players needed for the team.

The players who have now been removed from the team will be called back in a month based on the team’s performance. And, if a better player comes, he can also get a chance in the team.

I am confident and optimistic about the players included. I am satisfied with the ability they have.

New players added to the team as needed can play from the beginning and also as substitutes.

We have also strengthened in midfield, defence and attack. Like Darshan Gurung – he is a young player but has performed well even as a debut. During the last three months, he has also proved to be a welcome addition to the national team. Similarly, Anjan Bista is also performing well. Sanjog is also good.

Ananta Tamang is perfectly fit. He had an injury, but his trial has been done. After consulting a physio, it is seen that there is no problem with his fitness.

Ananta is also likely to make it to the starting XI in the game against Kyrgyzstan, according to the situation. 

We play to earn points rather than for formations.

Playing in front of home fans in the stadium is more ‘motivation’ than pressure. Because we are getting to play much later. Therefore, there is some pressure. But, to a large extent, this will prove as a ‘motivation’ to the team. 

Achieving three or one points depends on the outcome of the first game.”

Nepal’s Team
Goalkeepers: Kiran Limbu, Bikesh Kuthu, Deep Karki

Defenders: Ranjit Dhimal, Nishan Khadka, Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Ajit Bhandari, Viraj Maharjan, Chiring Gurung

Midfielders: Tridev Gurung, Sujal Shrestha, Tej Tamang, Eric Bisht, Sanjog Rai, Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Ravishankar Paswan

Forwards: Anjan Bista, Darshan Gurung, Abhishek Rijal, Bharat Khawas

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