Kathmandu, January 22:

The prime objective of any footballer is to find a place in national squad and the national league is the solid platform to demonstrate their footballing prowess for the inclusion. Nepal has played 113 matches since entering the international football. Players included in those matches feel proud getting opportunity to represent the nation.

Securing a place in the national side, however, is not that easy. A player should be laced with superior quality than host of other players to make into the national team.

Players can prove their calibre in the national league, which is regarded as the backbone of Nepali football. Better performance in the league means a chance to get a call for the national team. The outstanding players in the league usually get the call. We can take last year’s league as an example. Out of the six players, who won the Yamaha motorcycle each, three players made their international debut in the fourth SAFF Championship in Karachi.

Lok Bandhu Gurung (defender), Pradeep Maharjan (midfielder), and Bikash Malla (goalkeeper) earned their international call during the tournament. Other two — Basanta Thapa (highest scorer) and Surendra Tamang (best striker) were already in the national team.

Yamaha India Motors Pvt Ltd has announced the awards — best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, striker, highest scorer and coach — this year also, which will further boost the players’ morale to perform to their level best.

Looking back, the players have earned the national team call as per their performance in the league. Sagar Thapa played was named the best defender, while Ritesh Thapa won the best goalkeeper’s award in 2003. Both of them made their international debut in the Asia Cup qualifying tournament in South Korea.

In 1999, Upendra Man Singh was adjudged the best goalkeeper and Basanta Thapa won the best striker’s award, while RCT’s Bal Gopal Maharjan was declared the best midfielder. All three players served the national team for long. It was the league that gave berth to Nirajan Rayamajhi, who was later dubbed as ‘goal machine’. Rayamajhi has scored 12 international goals so far.

Nepal is hosting the AFC Challenge Cup in near future. And the six best individuals — to be awarded by Yamaha — will not only win a Yamaha G5, but also can get the national team call.