Nepal must hit top form against surging Afghanistan


By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA

Nepal is locked in an intriguing semi-final duel against an impressive Afghanistan for a place in the final of the SAFF Championship in New Delhi, India.

Afghanistan topped   Group A, following their 8-1 destruction of minnows Bhutan. While the other semi-final is between   host India and Maldives.

Afghanistan’s 1-1 draw against India in the opener was considered a fluke by many in the football circle. However, they proved doubters wrong in their last two matches, which they won   rather convincingly.  So far  their performance has been the highlight of the championship.

Considering Afghanistan’s uncertain state of the affairs, the kind of progress they have made   in sports like football and cricket is incredible.   In a short period of time   they have made their presence felt in a significant way.

Withstanding   adverse   circumstances, Afghani   athletes    are engaged in competitive sports, nationally and internationally. Their resiliency, hard work and dedication   to   strive   for   success keep them going.

Now they are in the last four stage of the SAFF Championship, looking and hoping to make further dent in the competition. Should they succeed it would be a remarkable accomplishment.

In Afghanistan we have a formidable   and highly motivated   opponent. We   know   their   potential and seen   their exploits. They have exhibited   fire power and intensity   in their quest to succeed.   They have improved after every   game and made scoring look easy.

More importantly, they are a balanced outfit served with penetrative   and speedy forwards who have shown a knack for scoring goals. Also they   tower over our players, physically, an advantage they can cash in on.

The team has benefited immensely    from   players who play club football in the lower tier of European leagues (Germany, Norway and Germany). To add, the skipper plays for Mumbai FC as well.

On the other hand, Nepal has looked solid and impressive so far. Our aggressive and organized brand of football has earned us high marks from football observers.  The youngsters have displayed poise, will power, excellence, coupled with positive attitude.

Our game has mainly centered on rock solid defense and innovative mid-field.  Going by our performances in three matches and football watchers verdict, we are in with a great chance to win the elusive trophy, which means so much to us.

Could this be our year? Can we seize the opportunity?  We will have to wait and see.

I believe we can do it, long as our youngsters rise to the occasion by putting up a life time performance. That said, success   largely hinges on the   effectiveness   of   our offense (weakest link), that has badly faltered and struggled.

The three goals scored by the defense is a reminder to all how far they are lagging behind when it comes to performing. Unless they shrug off their lethargy and mediocrity, it will hurt the team and     further stretch the defense and mid-field.

In crunch matches the role of strikers is vital, and their failure to come up big means trouble for the team. Ace striker Anil Gurung on whom high hopes was pinned has looked a shadow of his former self.  So have the other two   forwards   Jumanu and Santosh.

Here I have to  remind readers that we  are missing strikers of the caliber of   Ganesh  Thapa,  Mani Shah,  Krishna Thapa,  Ashok KC,  Bhuddhi  Gurung and  Hari Khadka to name a few.

Though our defense has been at the top of their game, they have to perform a notch better to keep in check the fast and swift moving Afghani attack that can score at will given the openings.  Our   mid-fielders have been brilliant all along and   carries    extra burden, especially with the offense going erratic and haywire.

The occasion is big and perfect for Coach Roberts and his boys to dazzle and corner glory. They must strive to make the most out of it. Is it doable?   Absolutely we can do it.



  1. thks for ur words–u forgot one and only basanta thapa as a striker–he was a goal machine—;;indeed nepal played best but strikers are the main problem for us——-

  2. Thank you Sushil for nicely putting all those together to appreciate the effort and renewed mindset of Nepali players, which has been revived under new coach, Robert.

    I think Nepali players should hold the ball possession and get a rhythm to score goal eventually. should attack on every pass through ball. 

    Yauresh Sharma, Everest Boys Football club manager. Kathmandu

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