Santosh Shaukhala, Jumanu Rai and Anil Gurung all recently received lucrative contract offers from South Asian clubs. So why are regional outfits suddenly interested in Nepali players? You can thank the new AFC 3+1 rule.
The 3+1 rule is the foreign player quota set by the AFC for teams competing in their tournaments. Each club can have three foreign players and an additional player that is Asian. Most Asian countries have adopted the 3+1 rule to their domestic leagues as well (and hopefully Nepal will too), thus instead of signing half-a-dozen Nigerians and Brazilians, clubs will now be motivated to also look for quality Asian talents.
Quickly browsing through last season's Indian League quad lists, it looks as though there was not even a single non-Indian Asian playing in the I-League. That means this year 14 slots will be available for Asian players and East Bengal have already signed a Lebanese player while Shillong Lajong FC have extended an offer to our very own Anil Gurung. It is highly likely that a few more offers will come the way of top Nepali talents in the coming months. You can read my previous post to understand why all of this is great for Nepali football.