Kathmandu [Nepal], October 18 (ANI): The Nepal men's football team, on reaching the finals of the 13th edition of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, received a grand welcome back home.
Hundreds of football supporters waited outside the airport terminal along with officials from the football association of the nation and the sports minister came to receive the players who created the history.
In 28 years of the SAFF Championship, Nepal never was able to reach the finale. Nepal beat the Maldives 1-0, Sri Lanka 3-2 but lost to India 0-1 and played a draw 1-1 against Bangladesh in the 2021 edition of the regional championship to reach the finals.
Nepal lost the final match against India 3-0 at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives, on Saturday.
Upon returning back home, the goalkeeper of the national team Kiran Chemjong stated that the absence of coach Abdullah Al Mutairi and Anjan Bista from the field impacted the morale of players.
"Obviously, the absence of one of the members of family lays an impact and Anjan Bista's absence also was felt, he desired to play the finals. Despite their absence, we all tried our best to show in the field but we had some lapses while playing, we now are aware of the mistakes made at that time and we will move forward rectifying those mistakes," Chemjong told reporters.
Nepali coach Al Mutairi was not allowed to attend the final games citing violations of the game regulations by the organizing bodies. On Monday, the national team coach and Chand were not present at the airport, Al Muitairi flew back home to spend some time with family while Chand went to play another commercial match directly from Male.
Speaking to ANI, one of the supporters who turned out to welcome the football team said, "I expect our team to be stronger and fortified for upcoming games."
The Nepali team, which went to Qatar on September 10 to prepare for the SAFF, reached the Maldives on September 27 to play the SAFF Championship. The football team returned home after more than a month. (ANI)