Graham Roberts was from home in balmy Southampton but the 52-year-old spending 14 months in charge of Nepal’s national team. He led his team to the second round of the 2014 World Cup Asia Zone qualifiers. He also oversaw qualification for this year’s Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup finals on home soil. AFC Challange Cup was Asia’s second-most important international competition and one designed to aid its developing football nations.
The Englishman with Tottenham Hotspur in the early ’80s when he lifted two FA Cups and the ’84 UEFA Cup against Anderlecht. He also won the Scottish Premier League and Scottish League Cup with Glasgow Rangers before helping Chelsea return to the top tier of English football in the 1988-89 season.
Famous for boasting eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, Nepal was unexpectedly peaking on the football field during his coaching. Nepal’s first 3 games against his coaching was in AFC Challange Cup Qualifiers 2012. Nepal opened up their campaign with a 1-0 win over Afghanistan, and although they fell to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ participants Korea DPR by 1-0. The third game was goalless draw with Sri Lanka which ensured Nepal progress to the tournament as section runners-up.
Graham Roberts “I signed a one-year contract this year and it’s been great. Infrastructure is a problem and the pitches we play on are disastrous. But we still qualified for the AFC Challenge Cup and we went on an Asian tour after that. I’ve stressed on physical training. We have very talented boys in this squad. I have made them confident and instilled in them a winning mentality.“
Nepal FIFA Rank Number one in South Asia
Gorkhalis were top in the South Asian region climbing up to the 136th position from 172. That magical progress was accelerated following the appointment of Graham Roberts. In Zonal ranking among 46-member nations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Nepal ranked 20.
In history, Nepal’s 136th ranking was the second best. The first best, highest ranking was 124 that Nepal had achieved from December 1993 to February 1994.
Graham Roberts Before Leaving Nepal
“This was my last match as the coach. It’s a great pleasure to be the coach of this beautiful nation, Nepal. I take home good memories from here, I made new friends. I got to know a lot of people. But in the end, life goes on, and it’s time to move on. I will always have Nepal in my heart,”
Nepal’s Team Captain Sagar Thapa on Graham Roberts
Sagar Thapa “He shaped the team just the way a potter moulds a pot. I would like to thank him on behalf of the whole country.” The itinerant Englishman’s next port of call is yet to be revealed.
Also Read: Nepal National Football Team