Reclaiming the top spot – Nepali Football

Nepal has lost grounds in global football, according to the latest FIFA rankings. We are now placed at 174th position, having lost four spots. In the meantime, Pakistan, to whom Nepal lost two matches in a row, has climbed 19 steps and is four places ahead of us now.

I don’t read too much into the slight changes in FIFA rankings as it is a function of how well or how badly the team has done in past as well as how did it perform lately. It also takes into account what kind of opposition has it played and the results. So, Nepal beating Pakistan (who were well below us) would have changed our fortunes only marginally while Pakistan beating us changed their fortunes dramatically. Moreover, with AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers just around the corner, there is enough opportunity for Nepal to improve its ranking in months to come.

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Nepali Football: Responsible Clubs?

An interesting bit of statistic to start with. The top team of this year’s Sahid Smarak A Division League will be richer by 7.5 million rupees. That is a whopping increase of cash from last season, where the amount was 2 million rupees for Sahid Smarak champions (4.5 million if you add the title winners of National League).

Each team participating in this year’s league has been given Rs 300,000 by ANFA, football’s governing body in the country, as preparation money. It is a customary practice, to bring the teams playing at the highest level, on an equal plane. Nothing wrong with that…

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‘Kidnapping’ the Game!

It’s not been long since FIFA President Joseph Blatter termed Nepali footballers being ‘as good as Barcelona’ players. You could debate, whether FIFA President had seen enough of Nepali football to be in a position to comment, or was in a hyperbole mode, or was just trying to please the hosts of AFC Challenge Cup 2012. One thing for sure is that he definitely wanted football taking centerstage in the country. A country that hasn’t seen much positivity in past decade or so…

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Hail Blatter (and ANFA)!

Sometime in the evening of International Women’s Day 2012, FIFA President, Joseph S Blatter wrote a message on internet microblogging site, Twitter, “Just opened AFC Challenge Cup match between Nepal and Palestine. Historic encounter, shows the power of football.”

Truly, it was a historic moment. For Nepal was hosting FIFA President first time in about 3 decades, and the highest level of tournament it has played so far.

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Have a start, got to score…

End of the year is always a time for stock taking. What weachieved in the year; Where we failed; How much could have been done and Howmuch is left.
But it’s also a time to think, what we could do more. As ayear ends, another one begins. That’s the beauty of time. That’s the beauty ofsport. After every year, another one has to follow. After every match, despitefailures, another is always in waiting. Life goes on.

The Art of Losing

Nepali youth team didnot do well at the AFU U-16 Championship group D Qualifiers at home, despiteour best wishes and sizeable crowd support. First two matches, the boys wereblanked. Never a good sign if you are pinning your hopes on young talents, whensome of the youths in the national team are showing signs of fading early.
Before the startof the series, Coach Sunil Shrestha told us, ‘There’s not much difference amongthe sides at the age-group level’. That meant we had a good chance, and we grewhopeful. Of the four countries participating, we were the lowest ranked side.Oman, Saudi Arabia and Syria are ranked ahead of us by FIFA, well 30 places ormore. But these were age-group matches. Our boys did not appear too weak, infront of them. And at this level, skill is considered ahead of physique.
But we wereblanked.

A sign of Good Times to come?

Heard a conversation in a public vehicle: God must be Nepali. For he made sure we dowell in two sports in a single day.
Needless to say, the person inquestion was talking about Nepali football team’s performance against Jordan (2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers) and U-19 cricket team’s start in ICC U-19 WorldCup qualifiers.
Yes,Nepali Colts beat Afghanistan convincingly. Most were expecting the result, maybe not with such a margin though.
But in another case, Jordan advanced to the group stage of the qualifiers, beatingNepal by a huge margin. The scores, in aggregate, stood at 10-1 in favor ofJordan, while Nepal managed merely a draw at home. So what’s the fuss about? A draw?