Lalitpur, November 14
Nepal national football team skipper Anil Gurung ended his international career with a goalless draw against the Philippines in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.
Gurung, who replaced Sujal Shrestha in the 81st minute, bowed out with 50th caps for the national team. In a good gesture which was cheered by hundreds of spectators at the stadium, Biraj Maharjan handed over the captain’s armband to Gurung.
“I felt numb when the referee blew the final whistle. I was actually scared that the match was my last in national colours,” said the 29-year-old Gurung. “I will miss the ground, my jersey number as well as fans, media and my family who supported me throughout my career,” he added.
All Nepal Football Association President Narendra Shrestha among others bade farewell to Gurung by offering a blazer and certificate. “I had not expected that my retirement will be such a memorable one. The farewell was beyond my imagination. I want to thank ANFA for organising such a programme in my honour. I think, this was the biggest achievement in my life. Such farewell from ANFA will also encourage other footballers to be dedicated in the game,” said Gurung, who hails from Pokhara.
Gurung, who made his national team debut on October 28, 2007 in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match against Oman, has scored nine international goals during his decade-long career. “Although, all the goals are equally important for me but the one against Bangladesh in the SAFF Championship in 2013 at the Dasharath Stadium is the most memorable one,” he remembered.
Gurung also said he was missing his father who wanted to see him as a soldier. “My father (Bil Bahadur Gurung) wanted me to be a soldier but I became a footballer and earned name and fame and supported my family. I also became financially sound by playing football,” he added.
Gurung, who started his football career from Sahara Club after joining Sahara Academy in 2001, credited his success to the Pokhara-based club. Gurung got chance to give trial for Chelsea FC and also had the opportunity to train in England, thanks to the Sahara Club Pokhara and Sahara Club UK.
Gurung joined Kathmandu-based Brigade Boys Club in 2004 and also played for Three Star Club, New Road Team and Manang Marshyangdi Club in domestic football. He also plied his trades in India’s I-League Club Shillong Lajong during 2009-10 season. Gurung, who is currently with MMC, said his domestic career will depend upon the football activities in the country. “I am not sure when I will end my domestic career. But it will depend on the domestic tournaments including league. If there are no leagues, I will have to say goodbye,” added Gurung.