The men’s national football team of Nepal’s defeat in the hands of Yemen in the second round of the 2026 World Cup and 2027 AFC Asia Cup Qualifiers was a huge setback.
Hosts Nepal entered the match with a decent chance to record its maiden victory over the West Asian outfit but disappointingly faltered at the end. The loss added more misery,gloom, agony and frustration to the team and partisan supporters. Home fans had high expectations. They looked forward to an improved and winning performance.That did not materialize,however,much to everyone’s chagrin.
For the umpteenth time,Team Nepal squandered the chance to give a good account of themselves when it mattered most. The matchup between the two sides was on an equal footing and the end result was up in the air. Nepal not only failed to capitalize on home advantage but turned in a mediocre result. They had their moments, but on the whole it was not the best performance.They lacked consistency,aggression,cohesion and clinical finish. Simply put, they didn’t rise to the occasion. Additionally, they struggled to match the opposition’s pace,aggression,resilience and determination.That made the big difference and led to their downfall ultimately. Evidently, it was a tale of missed opportunity. There is absolutely no excuse for the defeat whatsoever.
Team Nepal’s streak of losses in international outings in recent years is a reason for concern. They continue their downward trend. Given the sorry state of Nepal football, the decline we are witnessing in the performance of the national team of all age groups is no surprise. The parties largely responsible for stagnation of Nepal football are both the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and the government.
Age long problems like lack of infrastructure,neglect of grass roots and youth levels football development, underfunding and absence of a meaningful professional domestic league continue to hinder systematic development and growth of football to date. The government is yet to be fully involved not just in the development of football but sports as a whole. As a matter of fact, sports development has never been their top priority. No wonder, the budget allocated by the government every year for sports development is negligible and awfully inadequate.
Successive administrations have turned a blind eye to the need of prioritizing sports which is regrettable and lamentable. As long as the government continues to distance itself from sports development and fails to make it a top priority, the sports sector faces an uncertain future. Furthermore,ANFA continues to fail miserably in its responsibilities and has pushed Nepal football in the throes of crisis.
Clearly this is the result of a weak leadership, pathetic governance, constant bickering, politicking, incompetence, mismanagement, lack of accountability and transparency. The failure of ANFA has considerably slowed the development of football,led to substandard performance, has created an unconducive environment and kept potential investors apathetic. The exodus of players moving abroad for a secure financial future is a troubling trend and a slap in the face to Nepal football.
Additionally, it has depleted the team’s roster to some degree as well. The majority of ‘A’ Division clubs remain cash strapped and corporate sponsors are still hesitant to support domestic football. Indeed, it is a sad and frustrating state of affairs.
The ongoing Nepal Super League in Kathmandu is a silver lining and lays groundwork for aspiring local players for their professional journey. However, if efforts are not made to end the stagnation and decline in Nepal football, the competition will become less meaningful and significant.
Unless ANFA is seriously committed to achieving sustainable development goals, Nepal football woes will continue to multiply.
By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax,VA, USA
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