Nepali Times
Red card champions


After a winning year and a boost in regional rankings for the national team, Nepali fans were looking forward to more breathtaking football action in 2012. But those hopes were dashed.

Just two days into the new year Nepali football turned into a footbrawl. Several players were suspended or banned for physically assaulting opponents and referees, and disobeying match officials in the on-going A and B division league matches.

The National A Division League match between Manang Marsyangdi and New Road Team (NRT) on 2 January got increasingly hostile as the game entered injury time with NRT leading by one goal. Both teams resorted to fist fights soon after Manang's Nirajan Khadka deliberately pushed NRT's Rajan Adhikari. Sachin Amatya issued red cards to five players, but the brawl continued and riot police had to be called in.

Khadka was lucky to get away with just a yellow card. But due to the severity of the offence, Vijay Gurung and Sujal Shrestha from Manang and Laxman Ruchal, Asimjung Karki and Raghu Prajapati from NRT were handed a three-match ban.

Such violence and indiscipline has tarnished the reputation of clubs and has hurt them because of the absence of their best players. Since Pokhara, NRT has not won a single game. On 4 January, it lost against a new team, Mitramilan, and again to Police Club on 6 January and Himalayan Sherpa. Previous title holder and tournament favourite Manang Marsyangdi, has also fared poorly and has slid down the point tables.

In a similar incident on 25 December, players of Gyan Bhairab Youth Club manhandled referee Sudish Pandey during the Martyr's Memorial B-Division League at the Police football ground in Maharajgunj. Sudeep Giri was suspended for two years while his teammates Sunil Bhandari, Bharat Gurung, Kiran Subba Yokso, Yogbahadur Gurung, Kuldip Karki and Deepak Karki received one year suspensions. For the first time in Nepal's football history a Division B club was demoted and asked to pay Rs 75,000 penalty. Coach Amik KC, Team Manager Kishor Ranjit and officials Niraj Thapa and Bishwas Thapa will also face charges.

Nepal's U-16 team seems to be quickly picking up the bad habits of their seniors. During a SAFF U-16 Championship match against Bangladesh on 4 January, Rangrihang Rai pushed Mohammed Sawir into the ground after the Bangladeshi player had tackled Vishwas Shrestha. Although referee Ahmed Aslam from Maldives was hesitant to issue a red card to Rai in front of a full capacity home crowd, the fans showed their disapproval by throwing water bottles at the players.

ANFA Football Development Director, Sanjeev Mishra sees a need for strict regulations: "When there are no serious repercussions it is easy for players to attack opponents and match officials."Although the career of many big named players are on the line, the fans and ANFA are the biggest losers.

Hari Khadka one of the most effective Nepali strikers, reminds players that in order to succeed on the field, they must learn to control their aggression and respect their opponents: "Football is a naturally aggressive game and the ability to control aggression is the most important skill for any player."

1. dravin
Withdraw sponsorships....too simple.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)