Subas Humagain, Kathmandu
Midfielder Jagajeet Shrestha is aiming to make a comeback into the National Team after four years. Jagajeet, who has been living in Australia for a long time returned to Nepal to play in the A Division League. After an impressive performance from Tribhuwan Army Football Club in the league, coach Abdullah Almutairi included Jagajeet in the preliminary selection.
Jagajeet’s style of play matches the current Nepali team. Technically sound and comfortable with the ball, he primarily plays as a winger. Jagajeet can play operate in either wing in the 4-3-3 formation Nepal is currently playing. Naturally a left-footed winger, he is not only good at crossing, but his style of attacking the goal by cutting in is equally dangerous. Due to his excellent football sense and exceptional close control, there is an option to use him in the role of No. 10 behind the forward.
Coach Almutairi hinted at using Jagajeet as a right-winger in his first day of training on Tuesday. Almutairi focused on bringing the opponent’s right back out of the position, creating space for a teammate, as well as creating conditions for him to cut in and attack the goal. The training drills and the time spent on him also hinted Abdullah included Jagajeet in the team considering his ability.
Jagajeet himself said that Abdullah was strict on his tactics comparing previous foreign coaches. ‘Coach Abdullah is very professional and straightforward. He speaks directly about what we need to do in attacking tactics. The previous foreign coaches were strict on their tactics, but I found Abdullah even more strict. He is taking his time in familiarizing us with his tactics. I am very happy to see the training on the attacking side, “he added.
Jagajeet was last included in the national team when Japanese coach Gyotoku Koji was on the team. He was included in the squad for the 2017 Asian Cup qualifiers against the Philippines. In the game in which the then captain Anil Gurung retired, coach Koji included Jagajeet in the team after almost a year and a half but didn’t put him in the field.
Jagajeet last played for the National Team in the SAFF Championship in Kerala, India in 2015. He played in both the group stage games. Jagajeet later was part of the team that won the gold medal in the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) in early 2016. He was also a member of the team that won the Bangabandhu Gold Cup.
Jagajeet arrived from Australia to play in the league this season and has performed well. Initially, it took time to get gelled with the Army team. With time, he has established himself as an important player on the team. Jagajeet was involved in all three goals in the 3-1 win over Friends in the last match. He was also named Player of the Match, his second award this season.
Jagajeet himself says that the performance in the army team is improving. “It was a bit tough to settle into the Army team at the start. I also felt a little unwell due to the weather as I played immediately after coming to Nepal. There were some difficulties as the playing style of the Army was different. We have not yet fully formed a combination. But things have improved. We are aiming for the second place, ‘he said.
Jagajeet said that he was happy to return to the national team. ” I am feeling happy. The atmosphere has changed a lot. The coach’s style is professional. It’s been a lot of fun, “he said.
Jagajeet said that he is ready to contribute to the team if he is included. “We are focusing on the attack as soon as we get the ball and that is my strength. This matches my style of play as well. I think I can contribute if I can make it to the final team, “he added.
Jagajeet also said that this is his last chance to be on the team. “I take this opportunity very positively. After many years, an opportunity has come. This may be my last chance. It is also an opportunity to give a meaning to my career, ‘explained Jagajeet.
Jagajeet made his national team debut in a friendly against Bhutan in 2011. He got a red card against North Korea in the second match and made the identity of an angry player. He has seen ups and downs in domestic football in his youth and has shown that he has changed recently. Army coach Nabin Neupane also said that Jagjeet has changed himself lately.
Jagajeet, who has been playing a pivotal role in the army’s attack, has given 2 goals and 2 assists in the league. Going by the statistics, he has averaged a goal or assists in every two games. But Jagajeet’s stats alone do not make his presence clear. He likes to move forward with the ball and has repeatedly given problems to the opposition defense.
Jagajeet’s last attempt at the national team can be successful if he can perform as demanded by Almutairi. As Jagajeet has taken it as an attempt to make his career meaningful, he will leave no stone unturned from his side. Looking at his past performances and the potential he has, there will not be any problem fitting into Almutairi’s tactics. But his performance in training and the challenges posed by other players in the same position will determine his future.