National football team to play friendlies with Bangladesh in Dhaka in November, training after DashainPlayers welcome the move but call on authorities to allow domestic matches since their livelihoods depend on playing games.
Nepal’s national football team is set to play two international friendly matches against Bangladesh football team in Dhaka in November, according to the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA).
“We have reached an agreement with Bangladesh Football Federation to play two friendly matches. But the date is yet to be confirmed due to uncertainty in international flights to Dhaka,” said Karma Tsering Sherpa, the president of the association.. “The plan is to play the friendly in the FIFA international window from November 11-19. But the exact date will be known only after the flight confirmation.”
All sports activities including training were called off by the governing body of all sports in the country, National Sports Council, in March owing to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, no sporting events have taken place in the past seven months.
“We have already got permission from the Nationals Sports Council to start the training maintaining health and safety protocols,” added Sherpa.
In August, the All Nepal Football Association had started preparations for closed camp training of the national team and even conducted PCR tests of 34 national footballers for qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023. Nepal were scheduled to host Chinese Taipei on October 8, Australia on October 13 and Jordan on November 12. But later the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA decided to postpone events to next year, and for second time after initially shifting those matches which should have taken place by June 9.
The players will be called for training and PCR tests immediately after the Dashain festival. “All the players will be assembled in Kathmandu by October 31t before starting the training. But even now most of the members of the national team are training on their own,” he said. “We also need to follow local quarantine rules in Dhaka and make sure we train while isolating.”
Despite the plans to start training after less than two weeks, national team head coach Johan Kalin is still at his home country Sweden.
“We are discussing with him and if he is unable to return before the training kicks off we will take some alternative measures,” president of football’s governing body in the country said.
The national football team have not played a competitive match since November 19 last year after losing 1-0 against Kuwait in the home match of the World Cup Asian Cup qualifier in Thimphu, Bhutan. Nepal’s home match was shifted to a neutral venue after the AFC inspection team adjudged then under-renovation stadium for the South ASsian Games unfit to host the international games.
“It’s been quite a long time that the national team has not played any match and players must get involved in competitive football to remain in shape. Moreover, the match will also open door for us to host international matches in Nepal,” Sherpa said.
National team vice captain Sujal Shrestha is hopeful that resumption of training and international football will be a positive move for the players.
“It is unfortunate football has come into standstill for quite a long time – almost seven months. If the matches go as planned, we will get less than two weeks to train which is very short considering the long gap,” said Shrestha. “But football will return and it is the most positive aspect and it has already happened in many other countries.”
He also urged authorities to start domestic football.
“There are many other footballers other than national players. Many of them depend on the game for their livelihoods and when there is no domestic game they are the ones to be affected most. The government and ANFA must also think of them in a serious way,” said Shrestha who is currently at his hometown in Dhankuta.