A view on national league by national coach Roberts

KATHMANDU, July 17: For Nepali national football team coach Graham Roberts, the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League was more exciting than his assumption.

"The league was quite interesting and far better than my earlier expectations," Roberts, who was watching the football match between Bansbari and Saraswoti on Friday at the Dasharath Stadium, told Republica.

Not only did he watch the Bansbari-Saraswoti match, but almost all other matches after his return to Nepal on June 16, following one-year contract extension with the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA).

"Top 6-7 teams are really strong and good. Any team can beat the other. But the rest are very poor," said the 52-year old Briton, who played for English Premiere League clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

"The payment here is done in a similar fashion as that of that British clubs. Big teams pay handsome amount and poor teams´ payment is poorer. Like Manchester United and Blackpool in English Premier League," said the former England defender.

However, Roberts laments the lack of physical infrastructure in conducting league football in Nepal. "It is a shame to have only one stadium in Nepal. The country has great potential in football as there are large number of fans and great support from the public. The country should have other stadiums as well," shared Roberts.

Citing the two matches played at the Dasharath Stadium, he said, "Playing two matches at the same venue each day is disgusting," Roberts said, adding, "There are also other pitches like Police ground (Maharjagunj) and APF ground (Halchowk). Those pitches can be improved and brought into use."

Though he does not find the league winner Police a very exciting team, he insists that the departmental team is quite well-organized. "All players of police do their jobs very well. They are powerful, quick and energetic. Besides this, it has an experienced coach like Birat Krishna Shrestha."

"Police also have a winning attitude. This is what makes it different from other teams. Though both MMC and Police are equally competent teams, MMC is more individualistic."

He also sees great talents in Nepali football players. "There are a large number of young talents in Nepali football." Other than national team players, he is greatly impressed by Dipak Rai of Himalayan Sherpa Club, Ramesh Katwal of Nepal Police, Bishal Rai of Jawalakhel Youth Club, Prakash Budhatoki and Santosh Tamang of Friends Club, and Nawayug Shrestha of Nepal Army Club.

Match Fixing

"Before the kick off, I had heard the match between Bansbari-Machhindra was a fixed one. I had heard the match was going to end 3-0 in favor of Machhindra and I was taken aback after the match ended with the same score," Roberts said adding, "I heard the rumor that Bansbari got Rs 500,000 for that."

"Somebody must stop fixing matches otherwise it will go on," Roberts concluded.

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