Footballers question Almutairi’s conductThe national team members had left the training after the head coach allegedly expelled them from the closed camp.
Ten members of the national football squad who left the team's camp on Tuesday evening have urged All Nepal Football Association to probe head coach Abdullah Almutairi’s behaviour, alleging him of “imposing dictatorship” in the camp.
Senior players of the squad including caretaker captain Rohit Chand, Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Anjan Bista, Ananta Tamang, Tej Tamang, Suman Lama, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Bimal Gharti Magar had left the closed camp after coach Almutairi allegedly asked them to leave, following differences over accommodation.
The national team had started the closed camp for the third and final rounds of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers on Monday while the training camp had started from April 15. The players blamed the coach of torturing them mentally and even trying to control them off the field, including during their club duty.
At a press conference coordinated by the Football Players' Association, the players said that their motive was to clarify the incident that took place at the camp because media reports tagged them as “rebels” and “deserters”.
ANFA General Secretary Indraman Tuladhar said the incident was “disappointing” and the body would hold a discussion with the dissatisfied players.
“We have talked to them informally and they have informed us that they would hold discussion with us only after the press conference,” Tuladhar said. “But it is up to the coach to decide who remains in the team because he is the person entrusted with responsibility of the whole team. But if the players were treated unfairly we will not accept it.”
The players had called the press conference late on Thursday.
Goalkeeper of the Nepal team, Bishal Shrestha, said that the coach had informed the players on Sunday that the closed camp would begin from Monday. “Rohit (Chand) then asked the coach if the team would stay at a hotel or ANFA hostel and the coach had replied they would stay at the hostel,” Shrestha told the Post.
"Rohit told the coach that the hostel lacked basic facilities and it was not a good idea to stay there as per his discussion with the teammates. Then the coach grew aggressive and asked the players to raise their hands if they didn't want to stay at the hostel. But none except Rohit raised hand. He then said if all of them were not willing to stay at the hostel, he could call another set of 23 players in the team.”
Shrestha further said that the coach alleged Rohit of making a “negative impact” on the team, following which Rohit left the team after completing his warm-up.
“The coach asked if we were disappointed with Sunday's incident,” Shrestha went on, “and when all replied yes, he said he doesn't care about it and he could bring another set of 23 players. We did not get a clear answer about the Rohit incident after Tuesday's training. In a discussion, five senior players among us said that Rohit's demand was valid and he made such a demand upon our request.”
Quickly thereafter, the coach left the room saying there won't be a training camp for a week and he would call the other 23 players.
Defender Tamang said that the team members want a probe into the incident and punishment to the guilty. "Despite repeated discussions, the coach told us to leave the camp. And so we left it," said Tamang.
Chand said that with all that has transpired over the week, it is now uncomfortable to play under Almutairi. “Because he has lost trust in us and we have in him,” he said. “Our demand is not that he calls us again in the camp. He has already called 14 new players as replacements. But we wanted to clarify the issue as there were reports that we were truant players.”