- Published on Friday, 18 July 2014 19:12
Nepalese U17 team has earned and deserved many praise from the football fans, public as well as from the press. Nepal has produced many national level stars in the past but have rarely made an impact on the International level.
Nepal Police striker Hari Khadka, World Cup Qualifier hat trick hero Nirajan Rayamajhi, Basanta Gauchan, Raju Shakya and many other national stars have tried to shine for the Nepal national team in international level but haven't been able to continue the light of their twilight.
Current generation have many prolific players in the defence line but Nepal has still to find a natural goal scorer in a team where international stage is concerned.
The jinx of not having Nepalese striker seems to be broken as we have now found a 16 year old skipper in the team, Bimal Gharti Magar. He has already scored 6 goals in 5 caps for the country.
Goalfeast, 41 goals in 17 matches
Nepal U17 team has already won 10 games out of last 18 games both official and unofficial, both against U17 and senior sides and lost just 5 games. They have scored staggering 41 goals in 18 matches since last July and conceded just 15 goals. The U17 has lost only four matches from which four were against the senior sides.
Nepal U17 played against the Nepal Senior side at Satdobato ANFA complex in an unofficial training match which the seniors won by a single goal margin. This showed that this U17 team is going to be big in the future.
Nectar of ANFA
All the current players are from ANFA Academy and they know each other head to toe. This must be the best youth batch ever produced by ANFA. Bal Gopal Maharjan has used his experience while playing for Nepal National team to the stars of tomorrow. The greatest product is Bimal Gharti Magar, who is now playing for RSC Anderlecht junior team in Belgium. He has also already scored while playing from Nepal senior team.
Nepal has only two players in the national side who has international club experience. Another is defender Rohit Chand, who plays for Indonesian club Persija Jakarta.
Nepal U17 is currently playing in South Korea under the preparation for 2014 AFC U-17 Championship to be held in Thailand. The greatest challenge will be tomorrow when Nepal U17 will face the Korean U17 side.
This will be the greatest test for the Nepal U-17 side. Nepal has two more trips after the Korean test, they will visit to meet Qatar at Doha and play against RSC Anderlecht in Belgium on midst of August.
South Korea, Qatar then Anderlecht
These matches are important to test the skill of the ANFA's development in the grassroots level but not essential to win.
Nepalese players will have a chance to indulge themselves against the players from best facilities and training technologies from the world. In football, scoring goals and winning is important but Nepal U16 must be cautious to be disciplined in both defence and attack. 2014 AFC U-17 Championship should be Nepal's priority and not the practice matches. Bal Gopal Maharjan should instruct the players to build up on chemistry and discipline.
Every scored goal and clean sheets are going to boost the morale of the team ahead of the competition. But every conceded goals and injuries could demoralise and destabilise the team. The exhibition teams are better than the ones in the group stage Nepal has to play. So the head coach has to make sure all players be fit and healthy both physically and mentally before they meet defending champions Uzbekistan on first group match, 7th of September 2014 at Bangkok, Thailand.
New Beginnings, forgettable past
During the sixteen editions of the 2014 AFC U-17 Championship, Nepal has been able to qualify only three times in the championship. The last time was in Vietnam (2000) and Singapore (2006). The Nepalese team played 8 games in both competitions but have been able to score only 2 goals. Nepal scored a single point when they drew goalless against the hosts Singapore in 2006.
Nepal has conceded 17 goals in Vietnam and 8 goals in Singapore. Nepal has lost seven of eight encounters in the tournament and have been both times exited from the group stage.
The dream: FIFA World Cup U17
Three AFC U17 Championship editions and eight years later, ANFA has produced good quality players that can match at their own levels as well as in senior level. Although there are all good players in the team but the main responsibility will be on Bimal Gharti Magar. If Nepal U17 can finish within top four i.e. if they can at least reach the semi-finals of the AFC U-17 tournament, they will automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup U17.
This will be the closest the Nepalese fans would come to support their own nation in the World Cup at this moment who were supporting Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Holland and so on during the World Cup 2014.
Nepal U17 will start their campaign of AFC U-17 tournament against defending champions Uzbekistan (7th Sept, 2014), Kuwait (9th Sept, 2014) and North Korea (11th Sept 2014).
Best of luck to Nepal U17 team for their exhibition matches and AFC U-16 Championship.