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FIFA aside, fans rejoice

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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Nepali football team returns to a hero’s welcome in Kathmandu on Saturday. Photo: Gopen Rai

From the Nepali Press

www.mysansar.com (25 January)

When the Nepali football team lifted the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh last week, Nepal celebrated it as the first international trophy in the last 23 years. The Nepali media reported that it was Nepal’s first international football championship since winning the South Asian Games (SAG) in 1993.

But, because the Bangabandhu Gold Cup is not recognised by FIFA, the governing body of world football, as an international tournament, Nepal still has not officially won a single international football trophy since 1993. If anything, the victory was an international-level trophy won by the Nepali team outside the country.

If Nepali football fans still want to consider the Bangabandhu Gold Cup as the first international trophy since the 1993 SAG regardless of official rulings, it would be an injustice to the 2009 Nepali squad that won the Prime Minister Cup in Kathmandu. Nepal had defeated Sri Lanka 4-2 in a tie-breaker in the final match of that tournament.

Like the Bangabandhu Gold Cup, the Prime Minister Cup was not recognised by FIFA as an international tournament, despite the participation of the national football teams of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Footballers Sagar Thapa and Sandip Rai, who are now facing charges of match-fixing, were members of that squad.

In the last few years, Nepal had not been able to score goals in international tournaments. But in Bangladesh, Nepali managed to score seven goals in just its last two matches, leading to the hoisting of the cup.

But at the end of the day, without official recognition, Nepal is still looking to end a drought of FIFA-accredited international titles.

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