Maharjan dedicates trophy to Shrestha, quake victims
Lalitpur, August 29
Coach Bal Gopal Maharjan landed the major age-group tournament trophy and dedicated the first SAFF U-19 Championship title to the ANFA Academy's the then in-charge and acting President of football governing body Lalit Krishna Shrestha — who died of electrocution at his residence in Bhaisepati in June — and April's earthquake victims.
Maharjan guided the youth team to 5-4 penalty shootout victory over India, to win the first major title for Nepal in 22 years. “I know he (Shrestha) had done a lot for these players and we dedicate this trophy to him. And this trophy is also for all those affected by the earthquake,” he added.
Maharjan, who looked after the team for the last four years, had failed to bring glory in previous tournaments despite coming close on couple of occasions. The current squad had lost to India in the U-16 finals twice and in semi-final two weeks ago in Bangladesh. "These boys deserved to win the trophy and bring back the smiles to the faces of football lovers," said Maharjan, member of the team that won gold medal in the 1993 SAF Games. "People have forgotten the SAF Games title and this trophy was the much-needed one as Nepal had gone empty handed for a more than two decades," added the coach.
Maharjan, who worked with goalkeeping coach Mrigendra Mishra in the tournament, thanked fans for being with them throughout the tournament. “Fans were simplyincredible as they supported us from the beginning of the tournament. They have been an important part of the campaign," he said.
Maharjan was quick to shift his focus on the upcoming AFC U-19 Qualifiers slated for October 2-6 in Iran. “The win has motivated the players for the Qualifiers,” he added. “These boys put in everything in the tournament. And we were able to win all four matches, which is another achievement for the team," he added.