Review of Abdullah Al Mutairi’s role in Nepalese football: What is he proud of? What does he regret?

Abdullah Al Mutairi won the NSFJ Pulsar Sports Award for Coach of the Year.

Former coach Abdullah Al Mutairi is sorry winning the best coach award at the Pulsar Sports Award 2023 it’s an adjustment end of his stint as head coach of the Nepalese football team.

“It’s like a Bollywood ending. The hero won in the end,” he says.

Al Mutairi’s tenure started very well. He is supported by the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA); the players believed in his vision as did the fans who were in awe of his directness, something rarely seen in a Nepali coach.

He wanted to change the culture of the team, and although the results were not as he wanted, the team’s performances were better than the fans were used to. Players fought each other and competed against the likes of Iraq, Jordan, and Australia. They lost, but the score was not as bad as many predicted.

Under Abdullah Al Mutairi, the team reached the final of the SAFF Championship for the first time along with the third round of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. But the good days did not last thanks to the tensions between him and the then vice president of ANFA Pankaj Bikram Nembang and later with the players; he ended his stint with the national team on a sour note as he resigned for only six months in his new contract.

“I should have left after the SAFF final, but I stayed with the hope that things would change. The mentality would change. But sadly, that was not the case,” she says.

Your successes and failures

File: Former head coach of the Nepalese football team, Abdullah Al Mutairi. during a training session

Abdullah Al Mutairi feels that he did all he could to improve Nepali football. He changed the mentality of the players, significantly reduced the average age of the team and ensured that the team played many more games.

“You can look back at our team and how we played when I was the manager,” he says.

But throughout his tenure, ANFA players and managers have called him a bad person, a dictator and even arrogant. But he doesn’t care what people say about him.

“If you feel happy calling me that, I accept it. Because I don’t want any stress. In the end, it doesn’t matter,” adds Abdullah Al Mutairi.

He feels that if he was still the head coach, he would have been blamed for the players who leave the country for a better future abroad, especially in Australia. Many players who made their debut under him have been leaving the national team without key players.

“I’m glad I’m not the coach because what’s happening now is sad. It’s going to derail the team, but I don’t blame the players. They left because there is no money in football in this country.”

What’s next for Nepalese football?

Abdullah Al Mutairi feels that an ecosystem must be developed to ensure that the exodus of players is stopped. He says the country needs to think of soccer as an industry and develop plans that also benefit the players. He says that an environment needs to be created in the country through which players can support themselves by playing football.

“They have to start now.”

That’s what I had planned. By signing a contract extension in 2021, Al Mutairi had made plans until 2027. But with his resignation, will these plans succeed? He feels that if the government and ANFA want it, it can happen and adds that Nepali football will stay the same without him.

Abdullah Al Mutairi feels that the team has come a long way since he was appointed. He feels that players can now speak out against their clubs or ANFA, but having said that, he feels that while it is good to fight for your rights, discipline is important.

“There needs to be a balance.”

What’s next for him?

Al Mutairi says that he will soon announce his new destination.

So why did he quit early? He says it was for his health. He says that he had to endure a lot of stress during his time as Nepal’s head coach.

“I had to undergo multiple operations on my colon after the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. My mental health wasn’t very good either because there was too much stress. Every day there was some kind of drama,” says Abdullah Al Mutairi, “There were days when I would pray to Allah and ask for a normal day. It was too much and I had already made the decision to call it quits after the qualifiers in Kuwait.”

Now, after a six-month break, Al Mutairi is looking forward to getting back on the pitch. He feels that he has rested enough and says that he will return to football management soon.

“I have been talking to some national teams. I will be back soon, but I want to tell the Nepali fans that I will remember them all my life.”

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