Almutairi reshuffles squad amid resolution callsThe coach has called up 17 players to replace the ten footballers who the Kuwaiti purportedly expelled following a wrangle over accommodation facilities.
Abdullah Almutairi, head coach of the Nepali national football team, on Friday called up 17 new players to the national team closed camp to replace the agitating ten footballers who the Kuwaiti coach purportedly expelled, escalating tensions in the national football team that erupted on Sunday following a wrangle over accommodation facilities.
The ten senior national team members, including caretaker captain Rohit Chand, were instructed by the coach to go home after they had demanded that they be placed at a hotel during the closed camp instead of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) hostel which, they said, lacked proper facilities. The closed camp had begun on Monday while the team’s training started on April 15.
The coach has picked Bikesh Kuthu, Bishal Sunar, Abhishek Baral, Akash Buda Magar, Ashish Chaudhary, Bikash Tamang, George Prince Karki, Manish Jargah Magar, Nir Kumar Rai, Rajan Gurung, Roshan Rana Magar, Rup Bahadur Lama, Sanjok Rai, Sesehang Angdembe, Shiva Gurung, Sunil Shrestha and Sushil Rai, the ANFA mentions in its website.
Goalkeeper Kuthu, however, announced not to join the camp through a Facebook post. National team captain Kiran Kumar Limbu, who is currently in the Maldives and has yet to join the camp, has expressed his support to the exiled players.
The reshuffle in the squad comes amid calls from ANFA officials, including senior vice-presidents Pankaj Bikram Nembang, Krishna Bahadur Thapa and Bir Bahadur Khadka and executive committee member Dawa Lama, to hold an executive committee meeting and address the issue as immediately as possible.
ANFA President Karma Tsering Sherpa has also said that he is making efforts to resolve the tussle in the national team that has broken out just a month before Nepal participate in the third, and final, round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group ‘A’ Qualifiers in Kuwait.
The president said he is holding talks with the coach and the players and assured that the matter will be resolved.
Nepal are also scheduled to play two international friendlies against Afghanistan on May 25 and 29 in Qatar as part of their preparation for the Qualifiers.
Nepal are drawn alongside hosts Kuwait, Jordan and Indonesia. The winners of all six groups and the five best runners-up will qualify for the finals set to take place in June and July next year in China. The Qualifiers are set to be held from June 8 to 14.
The off-field row boiled over after the coach had objected to the players’ demands and “cast out” Chand from the squad accusing him of “befouling positivity” in the team after the versatile defender-cum-midfielder voiced his concerns regarding poor hostel facilities.
Almutairi then had ordered other nine players—Sujan Shrestha, Bishal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Anjan Bista, Ananta Tamang, Tej Tamang, Suman Lama, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Bimal Gharti Magar—to leave the camp, reportedly saying “You started the war and I ended it” the following day after the players showed their support to Chand.
The coach had asked five of them whether they would choose to play for “Rohit’s team or Almutairi’s team” and had reportedly thrown them out of the team after they had argued that Chand’s demand was valid. The other five had refused to join the discussion with the coach.
The players on Thursday publicly expressed their dissatisfaction over the coach’s behaviour and demanded an inquiry, alleging him of trying to “impose dictatorship” in the camp. The players have also accused the coach of torturing them mentally and even trying to control their personal lives off the field.