Deep Karki-The next Stopper in Nepali Football

The performance of Nepali national men’s football team in the recently concluded AFC Asian Cup 2023 selection was not satisfactory. Within the limited resources on one hand and the player coach controversy on another hand, expecting a better result from the so called new team could have made a fan upset and it happened too. Putting aside the overall performance of the team, Nepali football has definitely got some promising players. Many of the second-choice players made it to the starting XI after 11 senior players who have been playing for the Nepali team for more than the last five years were left out of the team due to recent disputes.

Deep Karki: The show stealer:

Deep Karki is one of the very players who hasn’t got chance to showcase his ability despite being in the national team for the past few years. While the former first-choice goalkeeper & captain Kiran Chemjong and second-choice Vishal Shrestha were both out, the number three goalkeeper Deep got a chance to showcase his talent on a big platform like the Asian Cup qualifiers this time.

Journey from A division league to national team:

Rather than the football fans watching the Martyrs' Memorial A Division League before the competition, many may have heard Deep Karki's name for the first time. Deep himself had hardly thought he would make his national team debut with Asian powerhouse Jordan so soon.

The same Deep, who made it to the last 23 of the team for the friendly match against Bangladesh in 2020, has remained on the bench in 17 of the 20 matches played by Nepal since then.

Later, he returned to the team for the Three Nations Cup held in Nepal but could not play because goalies like Kiran Chomjong and Vikesh Kuthu were in front of him. Later in the SAFF Championships 2021, he was included in the goalkeeping unit of the team including Vishal Shrestha and Kiran Chemjong. It was the time when Deep may have realized he’s time has come since instead of no. 2 goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu, coach Abdullah Almutairi brought Vishal Shrestha. Then again Deep reached to the number three. Despite being on the bench, Deep watched his senior goalkeeper play throughout the game.

From second choice to first choice:

Deep was still waiting for his turn when second-choice goalkeeper Vishal Shrestha got a chance in last month's home game against Mauritius. But he didn’t. Sometimes we pick something up from the market if it feels different and good. How do we know it’s quality, without using?. Yes, the current Nepali national football team goalkeeper Deep Karki is the very example.

Nepali football saw the potential in him and took him in the team, but the strong presence of Kiran Chemjong, who has been steadfast in the country's goalposts for decades, never gave him a chance to find an alternative in the team. That's why Deep never had to give his test when Kiran was in the team. But while saying this, many didn’t have the answer of the question who can be given the responsibility of Nepali goal post after Kiran's retirement tomorrow?. The answer has come much later this time & yes he is none other than Deep Karki.

Unstoppable Debut:

The penalty that Deep saved in his debut game against Jordan was commendable. Many players look a bit nervous in the first debut of their careers, but Deep presented himself lot different. Sadely Nepal lost the game by 2-0.

In the second match, Deep performed similarly against the home team Kuwait too. But even in this game, Nepal lost 4-1. In the third match, Nepal conceded more than half a dozen goals. In this game, Nepal seemed to concede the most goals in history. Despite the repeated weaknesses of the Nepali defense, Deep made so many saves in the game against Indonesia. If any supporter remembers Nepal's game, he/she may be remembering Deep's sourness vividly.

Praise from Indonesian Fans

Even the Indonesian supporters of the opposition team have become obsessed with Deep's goalkeeping in the game against Indonesia. After the game, Deep is still being discussed on many social media in Indonesia. Many are even praising Deep himself by texting him on the Instagram and social media. Many have said that they want to see Deep in Liga 1 of Indonesia. Deep, earned a good fan base in Indonesia, has already thanked all his news Indonesian fans.

Sign of emerging players to the national team

Although the coach-player controversy has shaken the Nepali team, there are positive aspects to it too. Many young players have got exposure on such a big stage in Asian football. It is said that when scarcity is created then alternatives are sought. A vivid example of this, is the current Nepali youth team. It’s not good to have this controversy in Nepali football which is currently going through a transition phase. Having said that, the new Nepali team had to be revived after 3-4 years. Until then, the current senior players had to be passed down tomorrow or later. At the end of the day at all happened a little too soon.

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