By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
Much to everyone’s delight, Nepal’s Under-18 footballers did themselves proud by cornering glory at the recently concluded South Asian Federation Football Championship in Thimphu, Bhutan.
My congratulations to players and coaching staff for the great result.The fact of the matter is, they successfully defended the title, once again, proving they are the best and the team to beat in the region, at least.
The youngsters earned success the hard way. They had to work incredibly hard to defy odds, especially after a shock defeat at the hands of Bhutan in the opener.
Despite getting off to a rocky start, they managed to bounce back and come through with flying colors at the end of the day. In fact, they refused to surrender, fighting to the bitter end and registered three straight must wins to emerge champions.
It was encouraging to see the youngsters regroup, rejuvenate, re-energize and get their act together. More than anything, they did not buckle under pressure and delivered the desired result.
In the vital and crucial tie against India, they were aware that they needed a very big performance to go out in a blaze of glory, which they did eventually.
No doubt it is a morale-boosting success for a team that is faced with a much bigger challenge in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers scheduled from October 31st to November 8th, 2017 in the Kyrgyz Republic.
They lock horns with formidable and better-prepared opponents in the likes of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman and the Kyrgyz Republic. Besides, they have to deal with the rivals’ pace, physical and technical superiority,
They will go into the competition as underdogs and has a mountain to climb.There is virtually no room for complacency and mediocrity if they want to make an impression.
Obviously, they have to take their performance to a whole new level to become competitive and have an outside chance.
There is so much talent there the team can get better only if they are provided a robust training environment that is inspiring, nurturing and supportive.
The reality is that there are still no hints, signs or indications that All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) is working on it.
Nepal football continues to be in the middle of nowhere. ANFA is beset by a culture of incompetence, ineptness, mismanagement, dishonesty, failed governance and weak leadership.
After more than two decades of stagnation, Nepal football has not budged an inch forward. Instead things have gone from bad to worse.