Humagain named caretaker coach of national football teamThe former Three Star coach will lead Nepal in the international friendly match against Bangladesh on September 27 in Kathmandu.
All Nepal Football Association appointed Pradip Humagain as the caretaker coach of the national football team on Thursday but the football governing body is still inconclusive over the fate of controversial head coach Abdullah Almutairi.
The Kuwaiti coach has yet to return to Nepal from his home country, following a disappointing campaign in the third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup Group ‘A’ Qualifiers.
The coach, following an ugly dressing room spat with the senior members of national team over accommodation arrangements, had left out 11 regulars—including captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu and vice-captain Rohit Chand—for Nepal's qualifying matches in Kuwait. Nepal lost 2-0 to Jordan, 4-1 against hosts Kuwait and 7-0 against Indonesia.
A three-member probe committee formed to investigate into the coach-players row had concluded in May that “the coach’s controversies and unnecessary social media posts had resulted in an unhealthy environment in the national team” and had recommended ANFA “seek an alternative to the coach after the Qualifiers”.
But the ANFA is still inconclusive over the issue.
ANFA general secretary Kiran Rai said the football body is likely to make a decision on Almutairi’s fate soon.
“ANFA has written to Almutairi seeking clarification concerning his behaviour but the coach is yet to respond,” Rai told the Post. “Once he furnishes clarification, ANFA will decide on whether to sack him or not.”
Since his appointment as head coach in April last year, Almutairi—sent under grant by the Qatar Football Association—has announced his resignation at least four times through social media posts due to his spat with ANFA officials, with his latest unofficial announcement coming soon after the Qualifiers. Despite being embroiled in controversy time and again, Almutairi has signed an extension of his contract until December 2023.
But amid calls for his sacking already being sounded out, ANFA is unlikely to continue his tenure as the football governing body seeks to restore balance in the national team.
“Humagain will now lead the men’s team in the international friendly match against Bangladesh scheduled to be held on September 27 in Kathmandu,” ANFA said in a statement following its second executive committee meeting.
Humagain, who lives in the United States, led Three Star Club to ‘A’ Division League title in the 2012-13 season. He managed NSL team Lalitpur City FC last year but was sacked following a poor run of results.
Super League gets new schedule
ANFA has also given a October 9 to November 18 schedule for the second edition of the Nepal Super League.
This is the third time ANFA has allotted the dates of the NSL after it could not be held on its original schedule of April 8 to May 15. The organisers had postponed their plans to hold the competition on the stipulated dates citing unfitting circumstances caused by conflicts with ‘A’ Division League clubs, who were not satisfied with the NSL auction saying it was held without their consent and the auctioned players were still under the contract of the club.
Earlier in June, a September 10 to October 22 date was allowed to the NSL organisers to hold the football tournament.
“After scrapping the previous erroneous agreement concerning the NSL, a seven-member agreement renewal committee under the coordination of ANFA president Pankaj Bikram Nembang was formed,” the press release reads. “The committee renewed the deal and has set a September 10 to October 22 schedule for the NSL.”
The organisers have extended the NSL to 10 teams for this season, adding Jhapa, Sporting Ilam De Mechi and Birgunj United.
The new season of ‘A’ Division League will begin on December 23 and end on March 18, 2023, according to Rai.
The ANFA meeting also fixed the ticket price for the SAFF Women’s Championship 2022 at Rs300 and Rs500 for normal and VIP parapet, respectively. The championship is set to be held from September 6 to 19 in Kathmandu.