Newly elected ANFA Vice President Mani Kunwar (3rd L) and President Narendra Lal Shrestha (2nd R) celebrate after winning the ANFA election in Babar Mahal, Kathmandu on Monday. (Pratik Rayamajhi/ Republica)
KATHMANDU, Oct 24: Narendra Lal Shrestha of the establishment faction of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) won the presidential election of the football governing body of Nepal on Monday, replacing disgraced Ganesh Thapa who was suspended by FIFA for financial irregularities.
Shrestha secured 36 out of 67 votes to beat his only contender Karma Tsering Sherpa, ANFA vice president, by five votes in the election. Shrestha will lead the football governing body of the country till October 23, 2017. The election also formally ended Thapa's regime in ANFA after 22 years.
“It is football's victory,” said an elated Shrestha, one of the close confidants of Thapa, after being elected for the hot seat. “My focus will be to develop the country's football. The football has got back into track lately and we will give continuity to it.”
Mani Kunwar of Shrestha's panel was elected vice president through the general assembly.
Kunwar, also the brother in law of suspended President Thapa, secured 34 votes out of 67. His closest rival Deepak Khati of Sherpa Panel received 25 votes and independent candidate Upendra Man Singh received eight votes. Singh is the former national team goalkeeper and skipper.
Sherpa of the rebel faction who lead the movement against Thapa and played a key role in unseating him from top position at ANFA, accused that lots of money was used to influence the outcome of the election. However, he said that he would accept the result.
“The election is the beginning of a new era at ANFA,” he said referring to the process of voting held to chose ANFA office bearers for the first time in two decades.
“It is democratic practice and I myself had played a big role nationally and internationally for election. I will accept the result and will continuously work for the development of the game.”
Shrestha, a former footballer during his playing career, has been involved in football administration since the last three decades.
“We will maintain financial transparency, develop a tendency of collective leadership and extend grassroots development projects to districts. We will also work to make the district football associations and clubs more active,” he said.
“We will come up with various programs. The general assembly has concluded in a sound atmosphere. The representatives of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are also happy with us and the funds and grants suspended by those bodies will resume. Election is a regular process and there won't be bias to any sides. We will include all sectors for the development of football. I would like to thank all for believing in me. The new leadership will start working in new way,” said Shrestha, who also praised suspended President Ganesh Thapa.
“He (Thapa) had a big role in leading football to this stage. Our duty will be to give continuity to what he did by bringing new policies.”
Shrestha was appointed as the acting president nearly a year ago after Thapa was suspended by FIFA in November 2015. Shrestha played professional football for New Road Team (NRT) for five years from 1971 to 1975. He was a key player of the team during its title haul of the Martyrs Memorial A Division League thrice.
He had also served at NRT as the secretary, general secretary and president. He was the vice president of ANFA from 2001 to 2005, general secretary from 2005 to 2009 and vice president from 2009 to 2013. Two years later, he was appointed the acting president after suspension of Thapa.