‘No selection tournament for SAFF U19 due to budget crunch’Selection tournament would have been ideal for picking players instead of nationwide open selection, ANFA competition director Sanjeeb Mishra says.
All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on Monday said it was unable to organise the selection tournament for SAFF U-19 Championship due to a budget crunch.
The sub-continental tournament, set to be held at the Dasharath Stadium from September 21 to 30, features six teams from South Asia including hosts Nepal, India, the Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Nepal are drawn in Group ‘A’ with Pakistan and the Maldives while Group ‘B’ consists of India, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
ANFA are under controlled funding by FIFA, the international football governing body, since early 2022 owing to a mismanaged internal audit. “It would have been much better to pick players through a proper selection tournament but we could not organise it due to the controlled funding and it is challenging to get sponsors for age-group tournaments,” said ANFA competition director Sanjeeb Mishra during a press conference at ANFA headquarters Satdobato on Monday. “We, however, picked the players through nationwide open selection at the district, provincial and central level.”
Mishra added that as many as 546 players were called at the last phase of selection in the Capital. He also said that Nepal’s age-group team always has title ambition at the SAFF level as they were champions in the first two editions of the competition in 2015 and 2017. But they crashed out from the group stage in the 2019 and 2022 editions.
Nepal started closed camp training on Monday under coach Sunil Shrestha with 35 players in the preliminary training.
According to ANFA spokesperson Suresh Shah, the expected cost of the tournament is Rs27.7 million, all of which will be borne by the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF). He also informed that Nepal Army’s Bhadrakali ground and ANFA’s Chyasal ground will host the visiting teams’ training.
Meanwhile, coach Rabindra Silakar also announced a 23-member final squad for SAFF U-16 Championship to take place from September 1 to 10 in Thimpu, Bhutan. Nepal are placed in Group ‘A’ along with India and Bangladesh while Group ‘B’ includes Bhutan, the Maldives and Pakistan.
Nepal SAFF U-16 A Squad
Goalkeeper: Bishes Baniya, Pemba Nurbu Bhote, Bhakta Bahadur Pariyar
Defender: Ekraj Bishwakarma, Kishan Thapa, Arbind Kumar Dhami, Bhuban Kami, Prashant Moktan, Nishan Raj Lawot, Kishor Kumar Danwar, Saran SK
Midfielder: Sujal Syangtan, Ram Thami, Pemba Tamang, Ganesh Pulami Magar, Binayak Tharu, Subash Bam, Laxman Thami, Dilan Limbu
Forward: Santosh Gongba, Rohit Shrestha, Himesh Majhi, Darshan Adhikari