The national football team is practicing everyday for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019 play-off qualifiers with the Maldives, which will be played next month at the Changlingmithang stadium.

Bhutan will play the Maldives on June 13 in its second match of the qualifiers.

Bhutan lost to the Maldives in all past matches. In December 2015, the Maldivians defeated the national team by 3-1 in the second game of the SAFF Suzuki Cup at the Trivandrum International stadium in Kerala, India. On March 30, 2016, the Dragon boys were 10 minutes short of registering its first win in the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Maldives at the national stadium in Male.

However, with the new coach from Germany, Torsten Spittler leading the national team into the second game, Bhutan expects a win because of the advantage of home ground, the number of spectators turning up to cheer the team, and the adapted climate condition.

“It is a must-win match for Bhutan for we have lost all matches earlier against the Maldives,” Bhutan Football Federation’s spokesperson, Phuntsho Wangdi, said. “Seeing the early matches score and up gradation in training and skills for national team, I expect Bhutan to win.”

Head coach Torsten Spittler said, “We want to make it much better than the last match against Oman and we hope that we have a good result.”

He also said that Bhutan has a young team and that some setbacks are expected. “But the team is developing,” he said. The coach said trainings are going well and players are fit.

“We will try to give pressure to the Maldives team from the beginning and we hope that we can somehow perform better than we did in our earlier matches,” he said.

The trainings and coaching are held every day from 5-7pm.

Bhutan belongs to Group D along with Oman, Palestine and the Maldives. Bhutan lost the first game of AFC cup to Oman with a humiliating score of 0-14 in Muscat on March 28.

Tashi Chophel