KATHMANDU: Unhappy with the way he was treated after being left out of the SAFF Championship squad, winger Bijay Gurung has decided to retire from innternational football.
“I had set my plans to retire after the SAFF Championship and had already informed about it to the management. But I was shocked when I did not find my name in the final 20,” said the 29-year-old Bijay. “After serving the national team for eight years, I was looking to bow out in front of the home crowd after the tournament. But my dreams were shattered,” he added.
He also blamed the decision of his exclusion as a predetermined one. “The coaches and ANFA had started showing indifferent behaviour towards me. I think they had already made up their minds to leave me out of the squad,” blamed the Pokhara-based player, who was among the five players axed out on Wednesday.
After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at the hands of India during the fourth SAFF Championships in Karachi in December, 2005, the left winger has been a key member in the national team and was never left out since then. Bijay had proved his worth scoring in his debut tournament in Nepal’s 3-1 victory over Bhutan on December 12. Bijay won 33 caps in his eight-year career scoring three goals.
After being dropped from the eighth edition of the regional tournament, the goalless match against Palestine — during the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers on home soil on 6 March earlier this year — became Bijay’s last match in the national colours. “I would have been more than happy to end my career after the SAFF Cjhampionship. It will hurt me forever,” added the first batch product of the ANFA Academy.
Bijay said he would continue playing club football for at least a couple of years. “I am yet to decide about my post-football future, but most probably I will start my own business or go abroad,” the player said. Bijay, who started his professional football career from NIBL Friends Club in 2004, is currently associated with Laxmi Bank Three Star Club.
After spending one season with Friends, he joined Three Star and stayed there till 2009 winning ‘A’ Division League along with numerous knockout tournaments. After donning Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyagdi Club jersey for a season in 2010, Bijay returned back to Three Star and helped the team lift League title for the second time.