Task force recommends ANFA remove AlmutairiThe committee has suggested the country’s football governing body seek an alternative to the head coach after the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Group ‘A’ Qualifiers.
A task force formed to probe the player-coach row and find facts concerning the national football team crisis, on Friday, suggested the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) remove head coach Abdullah Almutairi after the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Group ‘A’ Qualifiers while maintaining a cordial relationship with Qatar.
The report, submitted by a three-member probe committee and published on ANFA website, has concluded that “the coach’s controversies and unnecessary social media posts had resulted in an unhealthy environment in the national team” and has recommended the country’s football governing body “seek an alternative to the coach after the Qualifiers”.
The head coach has dragged himself into controversy time and again since his appointment to the hot seat in April last year. Almutairi, sent under grant by the Qatar Football Association, has announced his resignation at least thrice through social media posts due to his spat with ANFA officials but has somehow managed to stick to his Nepal assignment. He recently signed an extension of the contract until December 2023. The coach is also infamous for posting unnecessary comments on his Facebook page.
The Kuwaiti also came under fire last month when he barred national players from speaking to the media in a press briefing inviting widespread criticism. Only days before that, the coach had publicly announced that Nepal had no chance of qualifying to the 2023 Asian Cup finals since Nepal were drawn in a rather tough group alongside Jordan, Indonesia and hosts Kuwait.
The report further states that the coach was found to be working in a unilateral fashion and outside the chain of command and has suggested ANFA to direct Almutairi to follow the chain of command while performing his duties.
The player-coach tussle broke out into the open late last month after ten senior members of the national team 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, departed the camp accusing the head coach of instructing them to leave following differences over accommodation arrangements.
The coach, however, in a letter addressed to ANFA General Secretary Indraman Tuladhar earlier this month, had dismissed the agitating players’ claims and instead accused them of leaving the camp without prior approval.
The report states “the players had not fled the hotel but were forced to leave following repeated use of indecent language by the coach” but “it remains unclear on what basis the coach asked the players to leave”.
A day after leaving the hotel, the agitating players in a press meet had clarified that they had urged the coach and ANFA officials to place them at a hotel instead of the ANFA hostel citing inadequate accommodation arrangements. The players had claimed that the coach had responded to their request to arrange a hotel “aggressively” and expelled caretaker captain Rohit Chand from the squad for speaking on behalf of the players. The exiled players said the coach had forced nine others out of the camp for supporting Chand. The players had also accused the coach of trying to control them off the field and giving a mental torture.
The task force has also blamed the agitating players for embarrassing the coach by starting a dispute over hostel accommodation although a hotel had already been arranged for them.
The footballers had been staying at the United Business Hotel in Tripureshwar for three days when the row surfaced.
“The players are also at fault for leaving the team hotel on April 26 when they were asked not to leave by the assistant coach, goalkeeping coach, team coordinator and team physiotherapist. They were also irresponsible for not responding to the team management's attempts to reach them through phone calls and text messages to resolve the issue,” the report states.
The task force has further suggested that the ten players be left out of the upcoming Qualifiers and also warned them about a possible ban from the national team in the future if such activities were repeated.
Hours before the task force unveiled the report, Almutairi announced a final squad for Qualifiers in Kuwait, set to be played from June 8-14. Nepal are scheduled to play against Jordan on June 8, hosts Kuwait on June 11 and Indonesia on June 14.
Following the tension with the ten national members, the coach had called up 17 new players to replace them.
The taskforce has also found the team manager guilty of not advising the head coach and player during the incident.
Squad for Qualifiers
Goalkeepers: Deep Karki, Bishal Sunar, Tikendra Singh Thapa
Defenders: Bikash Khawas, Bikash Tamang, Gautam Shrestha, Rajan Gurung, Shiva Gurung, Suman Aryal
Midfielders: Akash Buda Magar, Arik Bista, Nir Kumar Rai, Pujan Uperkoti, Roshan Rana Magar, Santosh Tamang, Sesehang Angdembe, Sunil Bal, Suraj Jeu Thakuri
Forwards: Ayush Ghalan, Darshan Gurung, George Prince Karki, Manish Dangi, Nawayug Shrestha