ANFA axes four footballers from national squad for misconduct ahead of Kuwait match in BhutanForward Bimal Gharti Magar, midfielders Anjan Bista and Santosh Tamang, and defender Dinesh Rajbanshi were dropped after they were found to have visited night clubs a day before they were set to fly to Bhutan.
Nepal’s national football team left for Bhutan on Saturday without four key players, including star forward Bimal Gharti Magar to play the World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifier match. The dropped players were found to have visited night clubs on Friday night.
Along with Gharti Magar, midfielders Anjan Bista and Santosh Tamang, and defender Dinesh Rajbanshi were dropped from the team that is set to play against Kuwait at a neutral venue in Thimpu on Tuesday.
According to All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) spokesperson Kiran Rai, the four were caught red-handed in Thamel area, drinking and partying. "We decided to drop them from the Kuwait match as of now after discussions with the coach and team manager. We are yet to decide on further action. As national players, they have the responsibility of representing the whole country in the match," said Rai. "We will further investigate and take a full decision about them once President Karma Tsering Sherpa returns from Bhutan."
This is not the first occasion that footballers from the national team have been found visiting the nightclubs. Such incidents have taken place in the past as well, but the authorities at the football governing body were allegedly hiding such cases and protecting the players.
All four players dropped from the squad were in the starting XI during Nepal's last match of the qualifiers against Jordan in Amman which Nepal lost 3-0. Bista was the scorer of both goals against Taiwan in their 2-0 win over the hosts in Taipei City.
One of the four dropped players, speaking on the condition of anonymity, admitted that though they had visited a night club, they were not drunk. "We were not drunk. We should not have visited the club just one day prior to our flight to Bhutan. I feel really guilty for it," he said, teary-eyed.
According to Rai, central midfielder Subash Gurung is the new inclusion in the team. "Only 20-players left for Bhutan on Saturday. It is entirely upon the coach to decide on the new players. Maybe he will not add new faces for Kuwait clash. But, if he calls other players from the preliminary squad, we will send them," added Rai.
Among the last four matches of the qualifiers, Nepal have lost three and won one in the five-team group. Nepal lost 7-0 to Kuwait in their first away match before beating Taiwan 2-0 in the next fixture. They lost 5-0 to Australia and 3-0 to Jordan in their other away matches.
Nepal was supposed to host Kuwait for their first home match on Tuesday, but they were forced to shift the event to a neutral venue in Bhutan after Nepal's Dashrath Stadium was declared unfit to host an international tournament by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The country’s only international stadium was badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake and is currently undergoing maintenance ahead of the South Asian Games set for December 1-10.