KATHMANDU, Sept 9: With two nominations, football will emerge itself as a strong contender when Coach of the Year will be unveiled in the Pulsar Sports Award at the Nepal Academy Hall on September 11.
National team coach Gyotoku Koji and Three Star Club coach Meghraj KC are in the fray for the award along with cricket’s Jagat Tamata, Pushpa Raj Ojha of athletics and Kiran Thapa of badminton.
Koji guided Nepal to the AFC Solidarity Cup title that helped Nepal compete against few of the best from Asia in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. Koji’s guidance has helped Nepal gain more exposure in international football. Out of the six international matches that Nepal played in 2016 under Koji, the team registered three victories and two draws.
For KC, 2016 remained as a memorable year as he guided Three Star Club to AFC Cup preliminary qualifiers victory sweeping the league champions of Mongolia and Cambodia. KC guided the National League champions to the AFC Cup playoff but saw his team deprived of the participation due to a negligence from the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA).
He also handed Three Star the 64th Bordoloi Trophy in Guwahati, India. In the final, Three Star had beaten Indian club giants East Bengal 2-1 in extra time.
Badminton coach Thapa had handed Nepal its first ever international medal with Ratnajit Tamang and his sister Nangsal winning the mixed doubles gold in the Pakistan International Series. In the same tournament, Thapa guided Nangsal to women’s singles bronze medal. He was one of the three coaches during the Nepal International Series.
Athletics coach Ojha of Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) was the coach of a two-member Nepali athletics contingent that competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Under Ojha, Saraswati Bhattarai broke 26-year old national record in the women’s 1500 meter race. He is credited for making TAC the most successful team in the seventh National Games in Eastern Region as the department claimed 22 gold, 16 silver and eight bronze, alone in athletics.
National cricket team head coach Tamata handed Nepal four victories out of the six matches that Nepal played in the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC). Tamata has helped Nepal fight back in the contention for the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers as the top four teams in the eight-team WCLC make it to the global event.
His journey began with twin victories against Namibia at home. Tamata also helped Nepal beat Netherlands on their own home ground making his side the only team to overcome the Dutch in WCLC. The other victory for Tamata came in the match against Kenya in Kathmandu.