Bhutan out of the SAFF championships

Football: The Dragon Boys are out of the SAFF Suzuki Championship 2015 with the 0-3 defeat in the hands of the defending champions, Afghanistan on December 26.

After suffering two consecutive defeats in this edition of the SAFF championships held in Kerala, India, the Bhutan national team will play their last game against Bangladesh today.

Bhutan has a poor record at the SAFF championships. After their maiden appearance at the tournament in 2007, the national team’s best moment was at the 2008 edition of the SAFF championships. Bhutan reached the semi-finals of the tournament after defeating the war-torn nation of Afghanistan on June 8, 2008. The team had also managed to secure a point after a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh in the same round.

However, Bhutan was knocked out by the then defending champions, India in the semis. Maldives won the tournament by beating India by a lone goal in the finals.

Although Bhutan national football team had a good exposure to international games this year, the team still struggles against the regional counterparts like Maldives and Afghanistan. The team had played eight international games including friendlies this year.

Meanwhile, the national team’s Facebook page was flooded with mixed comments from the public. The team’s performance against the likes of Maldives was criticized. The need to make some changes in the squad along with possible reselection of the national team was also shared in the comments.

However, the effort put by the national goalie, Hari Gurung, to clog the floodgates of goals from the regional counterparts was appreciated. The team has conceded a total of 54 goals as of December 26, six in the SAFF tournament this year.

After the only win in the two-legged encounter with Sri Lanka, in March early this year, Bhutan failed to record a single win throughout the calendar year.

Ranked at the rock bottom of the FIFA world rankings, Bhutan jumped   46 places to reach 163rd in the table. The jump was recorded as the highest leap in April edition of the world rankings.

Bhutan today stands at 188 in the latest ranking.

Younten Tshedup

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