Heart break for Nepal in SAFF Championship


By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA

 A  brilliant solo run by Belal Arezou who sprinted past three  defenders  broke the deadlock  in the 100th minute of the game  to  put Afghanistan  in their first ever  final of the SAFF Championship in New Delhi, India.

 A rare defensive error   on our part sealed the deal for Afghanistan in a   grueling and pulsating 120 minutes of action.  The dependable defensive trio of    Sandip, Sagar and Rohit   were caught flat- footed and lacked the pace to prevent the   speedy Afghani from finding the net.

 The   defeat   ended   our dream   run, and our hope to end a 12 year championship drought is put on hold.  My heart goes out   to   the   youngsters.  I know how   much it hurts   to concede   a game of this magnitude that  we should have won.

 Coach Graham   Roberts and his boys’ desperateness    to thrive was   explicable from the onset of the competition.  Indisputably   , they   played   robust and attractive football to win the hearts   and   minds of   fans and pundits alike.

 As  a  hard core fan,  momentarily,  I was distraught and was unable  to  take  the defeat sportingly.

I gathered myself and   concluded   that we have more positives to take away from this championship. Let me be honest and speak from my heart, the boys   performed exceptionally very well and far above my expectations.

 This is the first time in a long spell   I am   impressed with the national   squad. I give credit to Coach Roberts’   who took over the national   team   not   long   ago.  His efforts   to reinvent and   rejuvenate the team have paid off handsomely.

 He  along with his coaching staff  has  been    able  to blend  and  mold  a bunch of  talented  youngsters  into a dynamic lot. The players have done themselves proud   and   should feel motivated.  This is a new beginning, not the end.

 The youngsters   put their heart and soul into every match but fell just short of the target.   Despite the loss, the players can hang their heads high   because they brought their best to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

 In my opinion, ultimately the   game swung   in favor of Afghanistan on their defensive strength   and our   offensive mediocrity.

The game was evenly fought with both teams squandering a handful of scoring opportunities.  The manner   the   action    progressed   it   was obvious   that the team that scored first would win.

 For most part of the game we controlled the action and pace of play but nothing   productive materialized for us in terms of   breakthrough.   The Afghani defense stood tall throughout, giving virtually nothing to our feeble offense that ran out of ideas and struggled.

 The much -vaunted Afghani attack looked far from menacing but made amends by scoring the winning goal.

 Let us put up with our disappointment and seriously prepare ourselves for bigger challenges that await us.   The matter of truth is that we can achieve a lot more than what we have, over the years. All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) should take heart from the fantastic result and get into serious business.


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