Tuesday, 3 August, 2021

GOAT Maharjan makes happy ending to int'l football


By Anjan Khadka, Kathmandu, Mar. 30: Nepal's one of the Greatest Of the All-times (GOAT) Biraj Maharjan on Monday retired from international duty with a happy ending as Nepal won the Three Nations Cup 2021 Football Tournament at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu.

Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli bade farewell to Nepal's most successful footballer and former national team captain Maharjan by wearing him a blazer. 

Defender Maharjan made a comeback in the national team after two years for the Three Nations Cup.

After playing a friendly match against Malaysia in June 2019, he has not been called for national duty.

Former captain Maharjan had entered the pitch in the 89th minute replacing mid-fielder Tridev Gurung. 

The 2-0 title victory also became the fitting swan song for defender Maharjan in his last international match.

He waited two years to call his day from the national duty at home ground. Forward Bharat Khawas, who was also on the bench, carried Maharjan on his shoulder to take him round the stadium to give him an applauding honour from the fans too.

Tearful Maharjan said he completed his responsibilities of the national football team successfully in his 13-year-long international carrier.

"I faced ups and downs during my football carrier and I am not expecting that I will be here one day," Maharjan said.

"I would like to continue my carrier in football in different roles.

Football is my life and I would like to contribute to domestic football.

"I am pleased to end of my international duty in presence of huge fans at the home ground.

This moment will always remain in my heart and I would like to thank to football fans, coaches and other officials of football," emotional Maharjan said.

Defender Maharjan had an incredible career as he skippered Nepal to give three international titles in one year.

He led Nepal to clinch the title of Bangabandhu Gold Cup held in January 2016 in Bangladesh.

One month later, Nepal clinched a football gold medal in South Asian Games held in Guwahati, India in February 2016. Maharjan won his third international title in September 2016 in Kuching, Malaysia, when Nepal won the AFC Solidarity Cup.

Maharjan made his national team debut at the age of 18 in an international friendly series against Pakistan held on March 25, 2008, in Pokhara.

Maharjan skippered the national team for the first time on December 27 playing against India during the SAFF Championship. However, he suffered a 4-1 defeat in his first captainship.

Nepal played 18 international official matches under his captainship. The 31-year-old Maharjan is also the highest capped Nepali football player with 73 international matches.

During his 13-year long football career, Maharjan scored one goal. He scored his only international goal against Kyrgyzstan during the AFC Challenge Cup held on March 28, 2009.

Maharjan won the Martyr's Memorial A Division league title from Nepal's big three teams Three Star Club (TSC), Manang Marsyandgi Club (MMC) and Machhindra Football Club (MFC).

After joining ANFA Academy in 2057 B.S, he participated in different age group international matches before securing his spot in the national team.