Roberts may quit amid political wrangling in ANFA

KATHMANDU, July 17: Nepali national football coach Graham Roberts on Sunday claimed that All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) is not providing proper training facilities to the team and alleged that ANFA itself wants to lose the 2014 World Cup Qualifying match against Jordan.

Roberts also threatened to quit after the completion of the two legs against Jordan.

The Briton, 52, was frustrated as he found the training ground provided at the Army headquarters untended. "When they told me we were training on the ground, I asked them to mow the grass. They wasted a day from the four-day training schedule," said Roberts.

Roberts accused ANFA officials, other than President Ganesh Thapa, of bringing disrepute to the national team. "Without the president, ANFA people can´t run even Mickey Mouse tournaments. They are useless. When the president is here they jump around, otherwise they are lazy," Roberts said.

He added that ANFA officials are only concerned about saving money. "Two of my coaching staff have not been called in the team hotel because ANFA people think it will cost them more. I´m very disappointed," said Roberts.

"I have some very knowledgeable boys and all players are physically fit. They want to win against every team but ANFA people don´t know how good these boys are. ANFA people have no ambition," said Roberts.

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However, he claimed that he is excited about the matches against Jordan. "I´m excited about both legs but ANFA itself is an obstacle in our way. We should have been in Bahrain by this time for training but we haven´t got proper training ground till date," Roberts expressed his frustration.

"ANFA people do not need coaches. If possible they would send only 11 players and three substitutes to Jordan," said the former England player.

The coach said he is thinking about quitting the job. "When I return from Jordan, I´ll talk to President Thapa. If I don´t get proper answer, I´ll resign," he said. "If nothing is provided to the national team, why should I jump in to look after the U-16 team?" said the national coach.

He is not only excited but also worried regarding the matches against Jordan. "I have to use all my experience to keep the boys´ morale up," said Roberts. "This week I would focus on speaking with the players and get to know their minds," he added.

Team manager and ANFA member Sunil Rana said he managed Jawalakhel Youth Club ground for the training after the coach refused to conduct training at the army ground. "He is a Briton and wants similar system here but we don´t have infrastructure and we have to adjust things.

Meanwhile, we ANFA officials were busy in the league," said Rana.

Counter accusations

An ANFA official counter-accused that coach Roberts is frightened of losing against Jordan and is making ploys to shift the blame on ANFA officials.

"He knows that beating Jordan could be a difficult task and he is looking for pretexts to find an excuse," said the official demanding anonymity.

The official said that Roberts has been dominating ANFA officials other than President Ganesh Thapa from his first day in Nepal.

"He is a clever person and knows if a person is influential. He deals with the people accordingly," the official said. "He knows the president is all-in-all within ANFA and he wants to please only the president while blaming others," he added.

The official said that the entire training program is approved by President Thapa though he is not in the country.

ANFA President Thapa is currently in Germany for the Women´s World Cup. Before that, he was in Mexico for more than three weeks as a match commissioner in the U-17 World Cup.

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