Members of the national squad calls group C a favourable group
World Cup: Bhutan will play China (82), Qatar (99), Maldives (141) and Hong Kong (167) in the World Cup preliminary qualification round-two in June after the fixture was drawn yesterday.
Bhutan is placed in group C. The top 40 teams from Asia including Bhutan are divided into eight groups of five each. The eight group winners and the four best group runners-up will advance to the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifications as well as qualify for the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) finals.
The first match will see Bhutan face Hong Kong in an away match on June 11. Bhutan’s first home game will be against China on June 16.
The general secretary of AFC, Dato’ Alex Soosay, during the introductory session of the draw congratulated team Bhutan on their successful win in the first preliminary qualification round. “Bhutan produced an impressive upset against Sri Lanka,” he said.
AFC’s executive director, Shin Man Gil and the head of FIFA World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers, Gordon Savic, conducted the draw at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. The first name that came out during the draw was that of Malaysia, which was placed in group A.
The general secretary of Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), Ugyen Wangchhuk, said that the draw was in favour of the country. “It was a good draw for us. I’m hopeful that we can produce some wins and if possible advance into the next round,” he said.
Striker Tshering Dorji of the national squad said that he was very happy with the draw. “For us the only toughest team might be China since they have played in the World Cup before,” he said. The 20-year-old who scored the only goal during the first match against Sri Lanka is hopeful to top the group. “I think the games won’t be very difficult now that we know who we’ll be playing against,” he said.
Bhutan has played against Maldives and lost 8-2 during the South Asian Football Federation Cup in September 2013. However, Tshering Dorji is confident that this time the Bhutanese will win.
Meanwhile, BFF is looking for sponsors to financially assist the national team. Ugyen Wangchhuk said that government support looks promising this time.
By Younten Tshedup