Football: With less than three days to go for the AFC Cup 2017 playoff qualifiers FC Terton’s head coach Pema will not lead the team into the qualifiers.

Pema, who led FC Terton to their dual victories of both the Thimphu and national leagues last year, is under suspension for two games. On August 16, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had sent a letter to the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) informing that the coach will not be able to register for the playoff qualifiers.

“Even we were not aware of this until we received a letter from AFC,” said the deputy general secretary with BFF, Mindu Dorji.

It all happened during an international game some time ago. The then player of the national team, Pema, received a red card. To fulfil the sanction, the red card had to be carried forward which was not done accordingly.

Therefore, as per the legal sanction of the AFC, Pema will miss two international games under the AFC banner, said Mindu Dorji adding that AFC is very strict when it comes to monitoring disciplinary matters. “Nobody can skip this disciplinary action. He needs to fulfil the sanction.”

Similarly the club was also unaware of the suspension. The vice president of FC Terton said that the club received a copy of the mail written by the AFC to the federation stating that her coach is suspended on disciplinary grounds during his days as a player.

“We were shocked because just last year Pema was the head coach of Druk United during the AFC in Thimphu,” said the vice president. “We were just told we can’t question AFC about it, rather start looking for a replacement coach.”

She added that since the registration date was already closed, the club was in doubt whether AFC would entertain a new coach. However, the club managed to rope in Thimphu City coach, Passang, to take Pema’s place.

Mindu Dorji said that it was the federation’s responsibility to inform the club. “To have a head coach or not is fully dependent on the club but it was the federation’s responsibility to inform them with regard to the regulation if nobody attended the pre- and post-match conferences.”

As per the regulations, the coach has to fulfil other activities off the pitch like attending the pre- and post-match press conferences.

The federation has requested AFC to consider registering Passang as the new head coach of the club. “Hopefully, he will be registered because he appears to be clean from any disciplinary charges,” said Mindu Dorji. “Sometimes they over look the issues which is exactly why Pema could register in the last AFC.”

Meanwhile, BFF will receive USD 60,000 to conduct the qualifiers, which will be used for all the three participating teams and their requirements including the expenses of the eight match officials.

The money, however, will not be given to the clubs. Mindu Dorji said that there is no indication from AFC that the grant is to be divided among the three clubs. “We have to meet all the expenses within this amount and if we cross the amount, we have to pump in our own money from the federation.”

The home club, FC Terton, will receive USD 10,000 of the total grant to meet the club’s expenses during the playoffs.  The club received Nu 250,000 up until now.

Unlike last year Mindu Dorji said that the full grant would be released only after the final match on August 25.

“Last year we hardly managed with the grant. We generated Nu 300,000 from gate collection which was nether a loss nor a profit on our part.”

FC Terton will play Tatung  FC of Taipei on August 21 and Sheikh Russel Krira Chakara Ltd of Banglades on August 25 at the Changlimithang Stadium.

Younten Tshedup