Exclusive Interview: National captain Sagar Thapa


sagar29 Feb 2012

Nepalifootball team recently had a talk with national skipper Sagar Thapa. Nepalifootball.com is very thankful to him for sharing his precious time.

How is team preparation for AFC Challenge Cup going on?
We all are thinking hard how we could put on a good performance for the tournament. Every member in the camp is under pressure and will give everything they have for their country. We all have well coordination and highly spirited training sessions. Let's hope we can bring a good result in the tournament.

We are not playing competitive matches against quality opponents like we had done before SAFF Championship. Will that have any difference?
Of course we are preparing this time in a different way. Rather than travelling to play different opponents like we did earlier we are more focused on intense training programs. As we are playing in our home only I think this will help us prepare better. Of course if we had played matches against opponents we would have some exposure to matches before the tournament.

How do think about group opponents?

It’s been a long time since we last played Palestine. Even though they will give us a tough time we will try to grab a win against them. Maldives are also good team but we know their game as we had played quite well against them recently. I think Turkmenistan will be the stronger among the three opponents in our group. But again we are thinking of winning the group.

How are you guys doing to improve the offensive game play?

We are having a specialised focused training for offensive players. All the striker and midfielder in the teams are practising hard to improve their shooting. I feel that the special training has improved composure in front of the goal. I think that we have improved our weaknesses in the team that had surfaced during earlier SAFF Championship. Let’s hope we score more goals in this tournament.

How is the team shaping up?

We are all physically and mentally prepared for the tournament. We have got only slight injury problems in the squad apart from one. Bijay Gurung won’t be able to participate in the tournament due to injury. We will miss him as you know he was one of the better performers in the SAFF Championship. Bharat Khawas one of our vital goal scorers will be pivotal. Our coach is thinking about changing his position to further up. Of course the final decision rest on coach.

What do you think Nepal needs to do in order to improve?

You see professional football in Nepal is still developing. Our players if they need to improve have to gain experience by playing in tougher professional league. We need more match experience at the highest level. We have to be more patience in front of goal so that we can grasp our scoring opportunity with both hands.

As you know Nepalese player lack physical attributes of other international opponents. Do you think this will be disadvantage for the team?

There used to be a time when teams with physical attributes had some advantage over others. But now it’s not that anymore. You see players with exceptional technique but having smaller physical attribute are coming out in numbers these days. Messi is prime example of it. You see he plays breathtaking football at times. Simply, unbelievable. You have seen our game in SAFF Championship that we can handle the game against physical opponents. We played quite good against Afghanistan who were physically tough opponent. We will always try to play the same game we had always played no matter who the opponent is.

Are there any upcoming young players in your view who can make into the national squad in your view?

I haven’t taken much notice about the junior level. But Kunjan Gurung looks like a talented footballer. He has come all the way from England to play professional football in Nepal. Jitendra Karki and Sabindra Shrestha also have bright future. Besides them there are others as well but I just couldn’t name them at the moment.

How different is it to get into the national team now than in the past?

In my view, today it is little bit easier to get into the national team than in the past. When I got into the national team there was a huge age gap between the senior and junior members of the squad. As a result junior players felt it very difficult to integrate with the seniors even though seniors were quite helpful. Now there is not that much age gap and they got to play together even in club level. Previously most players that made into the national team were from the players who were in national U19 and U16 squad. But now those players who never made it into age group national team can also make it to the senior national squad.

What do you think about Nepalese supporters?

Our supporters are simply the best. They make us feel like home. Every Nepalese voice brings out fresh energy in our tired legs. They help us to recover faster and motivate us to play better. Nepalese supporters have very strong influence in the final outcome of the match. Obviously playing in front of huge number of supporters at home will have strong advantage and boost our morale.

What is your most memorable moment as a football player?

Of course it’s the goal against Bangladesh in the SAFF Championship. I still remember the moment I took the freekick. It was dying moment of the match. I was wondering whether to hit it directly towards goal or just put in the ball for others to head. As there was very little time I decided to hit it on target. I was lucky that it went inside for a goal. You know I didn’t even see the moment the ball entered the goal frame. It was only when the net moved that I realised I just scored the goal. I could not believe it.

What is the most forgettable moment as a football player?

It was the match against Jordan where we got hammered by them. We had hoped to keep them tight in front of goal but we conceded an early goal. They had good home support and we lost our focus in the game. As a result our game plan got disrupted and they keep on coming to us. We were under extreme pressure and they just kept on piling goals. I just don’t want to remember it. I wish I just forget it. But it’s not possible.

Who is your favourite international footballer?

At the moment Messi is my favourite player. He is simply from another planet. Sergio Ramos is also an excellent player. I like the leadership and command of John Terry.

And from Nepal...

Raju Tamang. He simply plays the game with cool head. Khawas is a vital member. He always saves the best for the last. Rohit Chand reads the game very well.