Koreans bolster MMC chances

KATHMANDU: The most successful club in the Nepali football history Manang Maryshyangi Club (MMC) begin their Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division Football League campaign with a match against Sankata Kathmandu Mall Club here at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday.

Four years have passed since MMC won the last of their six league championships in 2005-06. They finished fourth in 2006-07. The club released all their players except for skipper Tashi Tshering after football power politics halted the league for the next three years. Key players Sagar Thapa, Basanta Gauchan, Nabin Neupane, Khum Gurung, Anil Gurung and Umesh Upreti among others joined New Road Team. The club assembled their team recently thanks largely to the ANFA Academy juniors.

The biggest achievement for MMC this season was the second place finish at the British Gurkha Cup. Making it to the final by the weakened team was a remarkable run for the club.

MMC coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung, during the British Gurkha Cup, repeatedly said he had taken the tournament as a preparation for the league. Almost two months after the tournament, MMC will be attempting to pose themselves as a title contenders. In their bid to strengthen their squad, the 2006 champions have brought in five Korean players and a coach.

“Our weakness in forward line was exposed during the British Gurkha Cup and Aaha Gold Cup but we have two Koreans to make up the lapse,” said coach Gurung. Gurung said the Koreans have the ability to play in all positions. The club’s newly elected president Tashi Ghale said the Koreans will take to the field on Tuesday as they have already submitted the players’ International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to ANFA. Ghale had

initiated the move to bring in the foreigners, the University level South Korean footballers, who are set to begin a professional football career in their country.

“We have sought their services only for the league period. They will be joining professional clubs in Korea after completing the league here,” said Ghale. Meanwhile, coach Yoo Kee-Heung is familiar with the Nepali football, who had managed the Nepali national football teams twice. Yoo, who was appointed Nepal’s coach in 1997 and 2003, will be supported by Gurung in the league while he will also focus on the Korean players’ coordination with club players.

Coach Gurung said his side is boosted by the presence of the Koreans. “They have a different playing style and it was a bit difficult for our boys to mix it well. But are done with that now,” added Gurung. Apart from the Koreans, MMC will also enjoy the services from the U-19 players — Shiva Shrestha, Jagajit Shrestha, Ganesh Khadka, Bishal Shrestha, Prasod Joshi, Niraj Remi Magar, Sarbendra Shrestha and Ritesh Malla. However, their key players Tashi, midfielders Shiva and Sarbendra are doubtful for the opening match due to injuries. “We can make up for Shiva and Sarbendra with others but Tashi’s injury is a serious concern for us. He is brilliant in coordinating the team members in the field and can play from any position. I hope he will be fit in time to join the squad,” said the worried coach.

Apart from Tashi, Gurung will be hugely relying on Shiva, defenders Prabin Sainju and Palsang Lama and custodian Bishal Shrestha.