The auction of the first ever franchise football tournament, Nepal Super League (NSL), witnessed eight most significant drafts on Friday as the clubs spent a total of Rs 7.8 million in buying players.
Sujal Shrestha, Bikash Khawas, Arik Bista, Sunil Bal, Bishal Sunuwar, Tej Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Dip Karki were the most expensive picks during the auction, with all the eight category ‘A’ players drafted at a maximum price of Rs200,000.
Nepali football’s big names Rejin Subba, George Prince Karki, Rabi Paswan, Jumanu Rai, Subash Gurung, Hemanta Thapa Magar and Biraj Maharjan were among as many as 98 players who remained unsold at the auction.
A total of 149 footballers—including 28 category ‘A’, 63 category ‘B’ and 58 category ‘C’ players—were on the auction list. There were seven teams bidding.
Auction’s big spender Pokhara Thunders drafted national team captain Shrestha and goalkeeper Karki while Lalitpur City FC picked midfielder Bista. Shrestha had led Nepal to the gold medal at the 13th South Asian Games.
Dhangadhi FC bought defender Rajbanshi, Kathmandu Rayzrs FC picked midfielder Tamang and Biratnagar City FC scooped midfielder Bal.
FC Chitwan also made two expensive signings picking goalkeeper Sunuwar and defender Khawas.
Category ‘A’ players Seshang Angdangbe was the other top draft. He was bought by Butwal Lumbini FC at Rs130,000.
A total of 16 category ‘B’ players were signed at maximum Rs120,000. Dhangadhi signed Rupesh KC, Bibek Basnet and Pujan Uperkoti, Kathmandu roped in Bishwas Shrestha and Lalitpur bought Kamal Shrestha, Prabesh Danawar, Mikchhen Tamang and Bimal Rana.
Similarly, Bijay Dhimal and Hem Tamang were recruited by Biratnagar while Rabin Shrestha and Amir Shrestha were bought by Butwal. Dipak Gurung, Nitin Thapa and Rajesh Pariyar were drafted by Pokhara. Tek Budhathoki was picked by Chitwan.
Yuddha Sahi, Ashok Khawas, Bimal Pandey, Niroj Basnet, Gaurav Budhathoki, Bikram Dhimal, Surya Adhikari, Manish Thapa, Rup Bahadur Lama and Gautam Shrestha were the high-valued catogory ‘C’ players at the auction, each selling at Rs75,000.
Category ‘A’ players Arpan Karki and Darshan Gurung were later picked by Lalitpur and Dhangadhi respectively at Rs100,000 each.
The participating teams, who made 14 signings each, will buy the unsold players as per their choices. The teams were given a mandatory requirement of drafting at least three category ‘A’ players, four to six category ‘B’ players and five to seven category ‘C’ players.
Each team will have 20 players. One team can recruit three overseas players and field two at a time.
Kathmandu and Biratnagar on Thursday unveiled national team goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu and defender Ranjit Dhimal as their marquee players respectively. Chitwan have recruited striker and A Division outfit Tribhuvan Army Club skipper Bharat Khawas while Dhangadhi have signed Bishal Rai as their marquee players.
The tournament will be played in a round-robin format at the Dasharath Stadium from April 24 to May 8.