Rising stars shine in Nepal Super League, paving way for National team glory

The recently concluded second edition of the Nepal Super League has not just enthralled football enthusiasts but also unveiled a treasure trove of raw talent that could potentially steer the Nepali national football team to greater heights. In a tournament filled with nail-biting moments and remarkable displays of skill, several emerging players have caught the eye, signaling a promising future for Nepali football.

One of the standout stars, Kushal Deuba, etched his name in the league's history books with a breathtaking performance. Deuba's electrifying goal in the 99th minute for Lalitpur City FC during the qualifiers not only propelled his team to the final but also proved instrumental in securing their maiden title. His sheer talent and ability to deliver under pressure have marked him as a player to watch out for.

Despite a wealth of talent, Nepal has grappled with limited exposure and opportunities for players to showcase their skills on a grand stage. However, the Nepal Sports & Event Management Private Limited's strategic approach in revitalizing the league has provided a much-needed platform. The league's grand finals between Lalitpur and Dhangadhi FC witnessed a surge in attendance, reminiscent of the fervor seen in past iconic matchups, revitalizing local football enthusiasm.

With the second-round qualifiers of the 2026 FIFA World Cup looming in March, the focus now shifts to the potential infusion of fresh talent into the national team. The Nepal Super League has presented Coach Vincenzo Annesse with a pool of emerging talents, beckoning attention to players who have exhibited exceptional skill and promise.

The Nepali national team boasts remarkable talents like Aayush Ghalan and Manish Dangi, both scouted during the league's earlier editions. Their impact on the squad remains undeniable, thanks to the keen eye of former Kuwaiti head coach Abdullah Almutaitri, who identified and nurtured these prodigious talents.

As Nepal gears up for the next phase in international football, the emergence of new stars from the Nepal Super League serves as a beacon of hope and promise. The stage is set for these budding talents to potentially shape the destiny of Nepali football, injecting fresh vigor and skill into the national team as they aim for greater glory on the world stage.

Rohan Karki: The Rising Defensive Maestro of Nepal Super League 2023

In the vibrant landscape of the Nepal Super League, emerging talents often shine like hidden gems, and one such luminary is Rohan Karki. Hailing from Jhapa and donning the colors of Dhangadhi FC, Karki's journey in the 2023 NSL has been nothing short of captivating.

Despite not being part of the auction list, Karki's inclusion in Dhangadhi FC's roster for the NSL season was a decision orchestrated by Yugal Kishor Rai, displaying the sharp eye for talent that characterizes the league. This midfielder/defender has brought a unique blend of versatility and leadership to the field.

Leading by example, Karki, the captain of RC32 Academy Football Club, showcased his prowess in the NSL arena. Featuring in five starting line-ups out of nine matches and making impactful appearances off the bench in the remaining four encounters, his contributions have been significant. His selfless playstyle was evident as he provided a crucial assist for his team, proving pivotal in decisive moments.

Karki's role as a defensive midfielder for Dhangadhi FC has been pivotal. His ability to break down opposition plays, coupled with astute positional sense, has bolstered his team's resilience. Amidst the intensity of NSL's competitive environment, his composure and tactical acumen have stood out, earning him admiration and respect among fans and peers alike.

This season marked Karki's maiden foray into the Nepal Super League, a platform where he has not just displayed his skill set but has also proven his mettle as a player capable of handling pressure and delivering consistent performances. As the curtains draw on another gripping season of the NSL, Rohan Karki's emergence stands as a testament to the league's ability to unearth raw talent. His journey from Jhapa to the NSL stage with Dhangadhi FC symbolizes the league's commitment to nurturing budding talents and providing them with the platform to shine.

In the realm of Nepali football, Karki's journey serves as an inspiration, underscoring the league's ethos of giving deserving talents the chance to make their mark. As the footballing world eagerly anticipates the next chapter of Nepal's football narrative, Rohan Karki's ascent promises a bright future for both club and country.

Aditya Shakya: The Midfield Maestro Who Seized the NSL Finals

In the grand finale of the Nepal Super League, one player who stood tall amidst the fervor and delivered an exceptional performance was none other than Aditya Shakya. His display for Lalitpur City FC not only earned him the man of the match accolade but also spotlighted his potential as a midfield dynamo.

At 24 years of age, Shakya's footballing journey has been a testament to his dedication and skill. Originating from Birganj, his roots in the game can be traced back to the Satdobato Youth Club, where he honed his craft before making a significant leap into the A Division League with Three-Star Club in 2078. Shakya's football odyssey didn't confine itself within Nepal. He ventured beyond borders, showcasing his talent while representing his college team at Delhi College of Art and Commerce in India. This international exposure surely added layers to his game, fostering a more holistic approach to football.

Hailing from a lineage entrenched in Nepalese football history, Aditya Shakya follows in the footsteps of his uncle, Krishna Shakya, a revered name in domestic football. This legacy might have infused him with an innate understanding and passion for the game, shaping his journey to success. Picked up at the Nepal Super League auction for 1.5 lakhs and designated as a category player by Lalitpur City FC, Shakya's acquisition proved to be a masterstroke. His ability to impact games, despite starting three matches and coming off the bench for six, underscored his value to the team.

Shakya's flair on the field, reminiscent of his idol Neymar JR, adds an intriguing dimension to his gameplay. His performance in the Lalit Memorial further highlighted his versatility and capability to thrive in high-stakes situations.

With the NSL serving as a platform for emerging talents, Aditya Shakya's stellar showing in the final resonates as a testament to the league's ability to unearth and nurture exceptional players. His journey from Birganj Youth Academy to the NSL grand stage exemplifies the league's commitment to fostering promising talents. As the Nepalese football landscape evolves, Shakya's emergence as a midfield maestro holds promise not just for Lalitpur City FC but also as a potential asset for the national team, signifying a bright future for Nepali football.

Kushal Deuba: The Young Maestro Making Waves in Nepali Football

At just 17 years old, Kushal Deuba has already etched his name in the annals of Nepali football history with his remarkable talent and game-changing abilities, most notably displayed in Lalitpur City FC's thrilling journey in the qualifiers of the recent tournament.

Hailing from Mahendranagar in the Far West of Nepal, Deuba's football journey began at the tender age of nine when he joined the Kanchanpur District Football Association Academy. His relentless dedication saw him move to Kathmandu at 14, where he showcased his skills for the Valley Eagles in the Martyr’s Memorial C Division League Qualifiers in 2021.

Deuba's breakthrough came when Raniban Sports Club, from Bajura district, provided him with a crucial opportunity in the C Division League at just 15 years old, marking a pivotal moment in his young career. However, it was his remarkable performance as a "super sub" for Lalitpur City FC that truly announced his arrival on the national stage. His 99th-minute goal against Pokhara Thunders in the qualifiers, propelling Lalitpur City FC to the final with just 10 men, showcased his ability to seize crucial moments and turn the tide in favor of his team.

Despite his tender age, Deuba's talent earned him a spot in Nepal's U19 team for the 2023 SAFF U19 tournament, where his contributions added attacking spark and showcased his potential to play at the highest levels. Kushal Deuba's meteoric rise from the Far West of Nepal to becoming a pivotal player for Lalitpur City FC signifies not just his individual talent but also the immense potential that lies within Nepali football's younger generation. His knack for seizing critical moments and delivering under pressure underscores his promise as a future star in the realm of Nepalese football, potentially making a significant impact at both club and national levels in the years to come.

Sanjit Rai: The Defensive Anchor Redefining Lalitpur City FC's Backline

In the high-octane realm of the Nepal Super League, certain players shine through as linchpins, and Sanjit Rai, the formidable defender from Lalitpur City FC, stands tall as a testament to defensive prowess and resilience.

Originating from Jhapa, Rai's footballing journey took root with Jhapa FC in the 2076/77 C Division League. However, it was Lalitpur City FC that recognized his potential, acquiring him at the NSL auction for an impressive 1.3 lakhs, showcasing the value they saw in his defensive abilities.

A defining feature of Rai's tenure at Lalitpur City FC has been his unwavering consistency. Starting in all eleven matches across two seasons (2078 and 79), his presence on the field has been indispensable. As a C category player, his impact as a defensive stalwart has proven instrumental in fortifying Lalitpur's backline. Rai's transition from the Himalayan Sherpa Club, where he was valued at 80k NRS, to Lalitpur City FC speaks volumes about his growth and the confidence placed in him by his new club. His evolution from a lower-priced asset to an integral part of Lalitpur's defensive setup is a testament to his dedication and skill development.

At 23 years old, Rai embodies the youthful vigor and ambition that drive Nepalese football forward. His tenure as a defensive anchor signifies not just reliability but also potential for growth and further contributions to both club and potentially national team aspirations.

As Lalitpur City FC forges ahead in the NSL and beyond, Sanjit Rai's defensive prowess and consistency serve as a bedrock upon which the team can build its aspirations for glory. His journey from the lower leagues to the NSL spotlight is emblematic of the league's ability to provide deserving talents the platform to showcase their abilities and contribute significantly to the evolving landscape of Nepali football.

Santosh Khatri: The Emerging Midfield Dynamo Breaking Boundaries

At just 19 years old, Santosh Khatri from Panchkhal, Kavrepalanchowk district, has swiftly emerged as a promising midfield sensation, leaving an indelible mark in the landscape of Nepalese football.

Khatri's journey began with Sporting Ilam de Mechi FC, where his ascent to prominence was rapid. Despite initially starting from the bench in the first match, his undeniable talent soon earned him a consistent starting spot in the team. His adeptness in orchestrating long-range attacks and maintaining a consistent pace throughout the game sets him apart as a versatile and impactful midfielder.

His roots trace back to the 2078 A Division League with Friends Club Kupandole, a testament to his early involvement and dedication to the sport. This foundation paved the way for his meteoric rise in the footballing arena. Sporting Ilam's astute decision to secure Khatri's services at a base price of 1.5 lakhs in the auction underscored their recognition of his potential. His ability to consistently perform and dictate the tempo on the field justified the investment made in him.

The most recent feather in Khatri's cap is his call-up by Vincenzo, the national team coach, for the preliminary round 1 in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. This honor, alongside fellow talents like Kushal Phuyal and Hishub Thapaliya, speaks volumes about Khatri's rapid ascent and the trust placed in his abilities.

With the eyes of Nepalese football now fixed on the burgeoning talents, Santosh Khatri stands at the forefront, showcasing not just skill but also the potential to be a driving force in shaping the country's footballing destiny. His inclusion in the national team setup for such a crucial encounter underscores his potential to be a catalyst for Nepal's football aspirations on the international stage.

Bibek Paudel: The Tenacious Midfield Maestro of Lalitpur City FC

At 25 years old, Bibek Paudel stands as a testament to resilience and skill, playing a pivotal role in Lalitpur City FC's campaign in the Nepal Super League (NSL) 2023.

Operating as a midfielder for Lalitpur City FC, Paudel's impact was profound despite his unfortunate injury that sidelined him for a portion of the tournament. In the seven matches he featured in, his standout moment arrived with an exquisite volley goal against FC Chitwan—an exceptional strike that reverberated as one of the top goals of the NSL 2023.

Picked up at the base price of 1.5 lakhs as a Category A player, Paudel's acquisition by Lalitpur City FC underlines the belief in his abilities. His contributions on the field, including a memorable match-winning performance that earned him the Man of the Match accolade, showcased his invaluable presence within the team.

Paudel's footballing journey began with Church Boys United in the 2078 A Division League, where he showcased his talent and determination. His progression through both A and B Division Leagues highlights his journey marked by hard work and perseverance. Despite missing a significant portion of the tournament due to injury, Paudel's impact when on the field was undeniable. His ability to seize the moment and deliver standout performances, such as the exceptional volley against FC Chitwan, solidified his reputation as a player capable of producing moments of brilliance.

Bibek Paudel's tenure with Lalitpur City FC, though marred by injury, showcased his ability to leave an indelible mark with moments of sheer brilliance. His resilience, coupled with his skill set, positions him as a vital asset not just for his club but potentially for Nepal's football aspirations. As he continues to recover and regain full fitness, the promise of his talent looms large, promising more spectacular displays and significant contributions in the realm of Nepali football.

Sumit Shrestha: The Rising Star with the "Messi" Touch

Sumit Shrestha, a 19-year-old prodigy hailing from Jhapa FC, has been making waves in Nepali football circles, earning accolades for his exceptional playing ability and mesmerizing dribbling skills, earning him the moniker of the "Messi of Nepali football."

His journey began at Manang Marsyangdi Club, where his talent caught the eye of former head coach Abdullah Almutairi. Despite being overlooked by previous national team coaches, Shrestha's exceptional skills were recognized by Almutairi, positioning him as a Category A player and acquiring him at a base price of 1.5 lakhs. Shrestha's playing style and incredible dribbling abilities have drawn comparisons to the legendary Lionel Messi. His skill set and the flair he brings to the game have marked him as a standout talent, capable of leaving defenders in awe with his moves on the field.

Starting in all seven matches for Jhapa FC, Shrestha's consistency and impact on the field have been noteworthy. His ability to maintain a starting spot in the lineup at such a young age is a testament to his skill, dedication, and maturity on the pitch. Despite facing setbacks with the national team, Shrestha's rise in club football showcases immense promise. His acquisition by Jhapa FC as a Category A player emphasizes the value clubs see in his potential and the belief they hold in his ability to shape the future of Nepali football.

Sumit Shrestha's emergence as a young sensation, likened to the great Messi, signals a new era for Nepali football. As he continues to dazzle with his skills and consistency on the field, he remains a beacon of hope and a key figure in the evolution of football in Nepal.

Bishal Basnet: The Defensive Pillar fortifying Jhapa FC's resolve

In the competitive arena of the Nepal Super League, Bishal Basnet's role as a defender for Jhapa FC has been instrumental in establishing a formidable defensive line, earning recognition for his prowess in solidifying the team's backline.

Hailing from a background at Brigade Boys, Basnet's transition to Jhapa FC has been marked by his ability to form a robust defensive pairing, particularly alongside Samandar Ochilov. Their partnership has been pivotal in steering Jhapa FC to concede the least number of goals in the NSL, showcasing Basnet's defensive acumen.

Basnet's contributions have been foundational to Jhapa FC's defensive solidity, a key factor behind their success in minimizing goals conceded during the NSL. His ability to read the game, coupled with his defensive tenacity, has made him an indispensable asset for the team.

Basnet's prior experience in the U19 and U20 teams, including participation in the AFC Asian qualifiers, has fortified his skills and understanding of the game. His exposure at the youth levels reflects his commitment to continual improvement and development as a defender.

Starting in five out of six matches for Jhapa FC in the NSL, Basnet's consistency on the field is evident. Even in the match where he came off the bench, his adaptability and impact were felt, highlighting his ability to contribute effectively regardless of the starting position.

Bishal Basnet's contributions as a defensive stalwart for Jhapa FC speak volumes about his reliability and tactical prowess. His partnership with Ochilov and his consistent performances underscore his significance as a crucial component of Jhapa FC's defensive resilience in the Nepal Super League. As he continues to hone his skills and contribute to the team's success, Basnet remains a vital asset in fortifying Jhapa FC's aspirations in Nepali football.


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