Dan Mellors’ Nepal Diary – Day Five

Today was a rest day for the squad, as they went to explore the city of Pokhara more…

The team have spent the last day just wondering what could have been different. We realised our Gold Cup quarter-final would be a difficult game, and the boys are obviously disappointed to be knocked-out of the tournament, but we can’t really argue with the result. The game opened up in the later stages and they capitalised fully.

We’re not happy that we lost, but the morale is still good. Now we’ve got to enjoy everything that Nepal is about. A few of the team went down to watch the quarter-final that was played today, and all we can do is enjoy being here as much as possible.

Everyone was raring to go during the pre-match warm-up, and we settled into the game immediately. It was a really enjoyable occasion – disappointing that we didn’t look as good a team as we can be, but we enjoyed playing in front of thousands of people. It was the most professional game I’ve ever been involved in, with the team line-up photos and ‘Respect’ handshakes before kick-off, and even FIFA-appointed referees, but we managed to zone out from the crowd and it was a normal game for us. Just a shame about the result.

The staff at our hotel were rooting for us too, the first thing they asked when we came back was about the result. Then today we went for a walk around the Lakeside district of Pokhara and a few locals were giving us some light-hearted banter about the defeat, but the people have been very welcoming. It’s a lovely community that we have become involved in.

We now play a friendly against Sahara FC, who also entered this year’s Gold Cup, at the Sahara Academy on Thursday. It will be great to go back there, and hopefully meet some of the students this time. That would be very emotional.

We came out here to win the tournament – and I now look like a bit of an idiot for saying that – but we always knew that there were two halves to this trip, and now we focus on the cultural and community side.