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As the SAFF Championship approaches, Goal profiles the 8 contenders who vie for glory in the South Asian International tournament. In this edition, we focus on Bhutan.

Quick Facts


COUNTRY NAME: Bhutan

GROUP : B (along with Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka)

ADMINISTRATIVE BODY: Bhutan Football Federation (BFF)

FIFA RANKING: 207

NICKNAME: Bhutan Eleven

Last Official Match Played: Thailand 5-0 Bhutan (14th November 2012)

 

History And Team Highlights

Minnows even by the standards of South Asian football, the 207th ranked FIFA side have kept their International engagements to the minimum. While a Bhutanese National football team has existed since the 1970s, it was officially founded in 1983 and joined FIFA in 2000.


FIXTURES

It was a part of the game titled the ‘other final’, featuring the two teams at the bottom of the FIFA ranking in 2002, the other being Montserrat. It was comprehensive victory for the Bhutan Eleven, who won by a scoreline of 4-0, on the same day as Brazil took on Germany in the World Cup final.

The Asian nation had not even tried to take part in the World Cup qualification process until 2010, and even then they withdrew, as they felt the facilities were not up to the mark. They made the first round of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2006 but have never come close to making an impact at the Asian level.

 

SAFF Championship


The Bhutan Eleven’s most consistent source of footballing action is the SAFF Championship, in which they have participated since 2003. While they have generally been the whipping boys of the tournament in most editions, in 2008, they reached all the way to the semis, before India managed to get the better of them, in extra time. This has easily been their best performance in the competition, with Bhutan failing to get past the group stages in any other edition.

In 2009 and 2011, they conceded 17 and 16 goals respectively, with just a goal scored on each occasion.

 

2013 SAFF Championship Preliminary Squad

Goalkeepers:
 Leki, Hem Lal, Migma Tshering. 

Defenders: Pema Rinchen, Dawa Gyeltshen, Nim Sangay, Monach Gurung, Karan gurung, Pema. 

Midfielders: Passang Tshering, Tshering Dorji, Thinley Dorji, Biran, Chencho, Ratu, Upay, Sonam Yeozer. 

Forwards: Yeshey Dorji, Chencho Gyeltshen, Sonam tenzin.


Players To Watch Out For

Pema Rinchen – The most capped player in the squad, who has also captained the side in the past. With expectations being minimal, Bhutan’s main task will be to at best, concede as few goals as possible. The experienced centre-back will be vital for that, as he will have the task of holding the line at the back, while marshalling his troops, to give their best effort possible.

Chencho  - One of the few players to have experience of playing at a decent level, the former Royal Wahingdoh attacker will be the one to watch out for, on Bhutan’s forays forward. Chencho will be expected to not only contribute with the odd goal, but also help retain possession and bring others into play.

Passang Tshering – The attacking midfielder, who often doubles up as a striker, scored 3 goals in 16 appearances for the national team, and is expected to provide the thrust from midfield. More famous back home for his triple records that he registered in August 2007, when in a single league game, he scored a hat-trick within three minutes, scoring nine goals in the second half (45 minutes), and scoring the highest goals in a single game, 17.

His exploits for Bhutan though, have been far more limited, but the 30 year old will definitely have to be at his best, if the Bhutan Eleven are to have a chance of matching their best showing in the competition.

 

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