KATHMANDU, April 30: Top flight football clubs do have any matches to play for at least four months after the completion of the British Gurkha Cup knockout football tournament on Saturday. British Gurkha Cup that started on April 14 had marked the beginning of a new season in domestic football.
There is no tournament for 16 top tier teams in ANFA calendar for at least four months. Most of the clubs had registered players in haste for the British Gurkha Cup.
ANFA has announced to start the top flight football league in November-December and is also preparing to organize a knockout football tournament ahead of the Dashain festival.
"We have already decided to host a knockout tournament in mid-September," ANFA CEO Indraman Tuladhar told Republica, adding, "We are holding discussions with the sponsor."
According to Tuladhar, ANFA is planning a knockout tournament as there is a gap of at least six months before the league. "All the teams have prepared for the new season but there is still a six-month gap before the league. Thus we have decided to host a knockout tournament before the league."
According to Sunil Kapali, the president of G Five Machhindra Club, such a long gap between the two tournaments would not augur well for the development of football. "Clubs need to hire players for a year. But the players are engaged for only four months. The clubs don´t have any other option than to send them home if there is no tournament for four months," Kapali said. "It is also difficult to give them regular training due to financial crunch."
"To develop professional football ANFA should have programs to keep players busy for at least eight to 10 months. Players would remain fit if there are tournaments round the year. Such programs shall be beneficial for the national team as well as age group teams. In the coming years the clubs would formulate a calendar in such a way that players would be kept busy throughout the year."
The general assembly of ANFA held last year had decided to start A division league from the very first month of new season -- from mid-March. But later, the executive committee of ANFA decided to start the league in November-December. ANFA had decided to hold four tournaments -- a league and three knockout tournaments -- for top tier teams. But it is still not confirmed whether the third knockout tournament will be held. "The principal football season will begin after Dashain festival. The time for third knockout tournament may not be sufficient due to league and knockout tournaments at the district level," Tuladhar said.
National League in limbo
Citing huge gap in the performance of capital-based A division teams and A division district teams, ANFA has started to rethink the concept of National League. ANFA had brought the concept of National League last year to provide equal opportunity for district teams.
"We have realized that there was a huge gap in the performance of teams from the capital and the districts. Thus we have started discussions for other alternatives," ANFA President Ganesh Thapa said, adding, "There are more chances of regional competitions among district teams for some more years to come."
According to Thapa, ANFA is busy planning the structure of A division league. "We have started discussions with the clubs regarding the A division league. A majority of them have suggested regional league for A division districts and league and super league for A division clubs based in the capital."