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Nepal U23: A Team On The Road To Nowhere (Senior Columnist Sushil Thapa Writes..)
Jul 17, 2017 09:53:05 AM - Nepal U23: A Team On The Road To Nowhere (Senior Columnist Sushil Thapa Writes..)
By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA

The prospect of Nepal making a dent in the 2018 Asian Football Confederation Under-23 qualifiers has been put to rest, following a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the United Arab Emirates.

Honestly speaking, the defeat was no surprise, but the manner in which they lost is hard to fathom and is a huge disappointment.I did not expect Nepal’s performance to be so unremarkably mediocre and lethargic, and I was surprised to see them get overwhelmed by the occasion, to say the least.

Without a doubt, it was a lackluster and sloppy play all the way to the end, and they had to pay a heavy price for it ultimately. There is no excuse for the heavy defeat.

I don’t buy Coach Raju Shakya’s excuses for the lopsided loss. He cited weather conditions as one of the main factors for the defeat. The fact is that his side  failed to live up to expectations and lost to a far superior team.There is no shame in losing to a side that put in a polished and dominant performance.

That said, Nepal went into the match against heavy favorites the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with some hopes and expectations. They were expected to give the opposition a run for their money and not surrender meekly as they did.They just played poorly and there was no semblance of a fight back on their part.

Prior to the kickoff, we knew it was going to be a tough and difficult opener against the bigger and more physically fit host  enjoying home field advantage. And Coach Shakaya boys needed a big play to keep pace with the fancied opponent. That obviously  did not happen.

Interestingly, Nepal fans outnumbered the home team fans and were vociferous in their support of their side, but it made little difference. They were unable to lift their team mentally, physically and had to see them go down uncharacteristically much to their chagrin.

The scoreline speaks volumes of UAE’s total domination and the one-sided nature of the match. The winners controlled every department of the game and were tactically and technically sharp.

They outmaneuvered, outmuscled and outpaced the weak opposition. With the opponent offering little resistance, the host had a field day enjoying the territorial advantage for the most part and scoring goals at will.

On the other hand, Nepal let the game slip away from their hands in the first half conceding four goals.The defense looked awfully shaky and the attack was impotent.

The visitors stung by a flurry of early goals completely failed to bounce back, as a result, they further slipped into oblivion. Although they put in a slightly better performance in the second half, the underdogs never looked like threatening and scoring.

In the aftermath of the defeat, I will not be a bit surprised if the team spirit, morale, and confidence is at rock bottom. With two matches to go, they cannot afford to brood over it.

More important, they must refocus, regroup, restrategize and go back to the drawing board. The coaching staff must step in and motivate players and help them regain their composure and confidence.

Indeed the pressure on the team has increased two-fold and they have to be mentally prepared for the next challenge. They are up against another strong contender Uzbekistan who will be firing on all cylinders to get many goals as possible. My advice to our  young footballers is:  Keep your head high, keep your chin up, give your best and never give up.”

Nepal’s underperformance is a result of poor and inadequate preparations and game strategy and for that the entire blame and responsibility rests squarely  on the All Nepal Football  Association,  the root cause of the problem. They are less concerned about the development of football and welfare of their players who are treated as mere pawns.

Besides, coaches also deserve their fair share of the blame. They have not been honest, professional demanding and paying close attention to all aspects of team’s planning and preparations.

They have ignored to forcefully address these systemic issues in order to protect their own interests. If this does not change, there will be no end to Team Nepal’s struggle and frustration. For now, it is a team on the road to nowhere.It is fact we cannot deny.
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