Prakash Timalsina, Kathmandu
Sujal Shrestha, the captain of the Nepali football team (U-23) who won gold medal in the 13th South Asian Games (SAG), has announced his retirement from international football.
Sujal, who is traveling to Australia with his club teammate Ranjit Dhimal, said that the decision to retire from his international career feels timely. “Every player has their time. I played with all my heart in my playing days and I feel this is right time to retire.,” Sujal said to HamroKhelkud, “There is next generation of players ready to play for the national team now. I think it is appropriate for me to leave the place for them too.”
Sujal, who is preparing to play for Beni FC in Australia, said that there is also a possibility of returning and continuing club football in Nepal. Sujal, who became the father of a daughter in February last year, said, “It all depends on the situation.”
Sujal had received suggestions to formally retire from the national team before going to Australia, but he thought that was not a necessity. “I personally did not think that I should announce my retirement from the field. This is my personal preference. International players also practice that,” he said. “It is not necessary that everyone should announce their retirement from the field.”
Sujal said that he is satisfied with his playing life. “I got an opportunity to play for the national team and succeeded in doing as much as I could. I am satisfied with that,” he added, “The only thing left is that I didn’t get the opportunity to play outside the country professionally. I have no complaints about the rest. “
Sujal scored 3 goals in 37 matches for the national team. Sujal, a product of ANFA Academy, made his debut in 2011 in a friendly match against Bhutan.
Sujal, who was also a member of the national team with great success, had to stay out of the field last year due to injury. Under his captaincy, Machindra Football Club became the champion of Shahid Smarak A Division League twice in a row. Before that, he also won the Martyr’s Memorial A Division League twice in a row from Manang Masyangdi Club.
In the year 2016 Sujal scored the only goal in final against Macau as Nepal won first ever AFC Solidarity Cup. Three years ago, Nepal had defended the gold medal under his captaincy in the 13th SAG held in Nepal. One of the successful players of domestic football, Sujal is one of the 3 players to become champion 4 times in a row in the A Division League.
Along with Sujal, Bishal Rai and goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha won 2 league titles from Manang Marsyangdi club and the last two from Machindra. Sujal joined Machindra in 2076, ending his journey of almost a decade with Manang.
Sujal had been performing brilliantly for Machindra lately. He was consistently player of the match in knockout tournaments held before the league and performed well in the league as well. After sustaining an injury in the last match of the league, he pulled out from national team.