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AFC Cup: Three Star deprived of participation owing to abject negligence of ANFA

Kathmandu, December 9, 2016: The top-tier Nepali football club Three Star are certain to be deprived of their right to participate in the AFC Cup, thanks apparently due to an abject negligence of All Nepal Football Association (Anfa).

Three Star had earned qualification to the second round of the AFC Cup by winning the qualifying playoffs in August, where they finished top of their three-team Group ‘B’ with four points, one point better than hosts Erchim FC of Mongolia. However, Nepal (Three Star) were not in the list of the Member Associations when AFC on Wednesday allocated the slots and set December 13 as the date for the draw.

Nepal’s place has been taken by Mongolia (Erchim FC) in the list published by AFC in its website on Wednesday. The second round is slated for January 24-February 7 next year while the finals will be held on February 20-Nov 4 in venues yet to be decided.

Anfa looks at fault for the embarrassing affair as it appeared that AFC had repeatedly reminded the football governing body of Nepal to register the team for the tournament. After three of its written correspondence went unanswered, AFC had informed Anfa on December 6 that it “will not be able to accept your affiliated club’s (Three Star Club) entry into the competition.”

Anfa Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Indra Man Tuladhar denied to elaborate on the issue but said: “Our president (Narendra Shrestha) has talked with AFC on the matter and until he arrives home, I cannot say anything.” Shrestha is scheduled to return home on Friday after attending Fifa summit in Singapore.

The Lalitpur-based outfits were in a state of shockwith the turn ofthe event. The National League champions spent more than Rs 6 million alone to participate in the qualifiers in Mongolia. “More than the money, we lost credibility as a club. We have no valid reason to console our fans and sponsors who are our backbone,” said Three Star general secretary Sanjeeb Shilpakar. Shilpakar said they have written to Anfa seeking the truth behind the whole affair.

Three Star are certain to be hit by a massive financial burden considering that they had hired a whole team one month prior to the August qualifiers in Mongolia. None of the other top-tier clubs have bothered to form their team due to the absence of domestic football league but all the players are Three Star payroll because of the impending AFC Cup in January.