Football: For the first time ever, Bhutan will play in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sri Lanka in the preliminary round of “home” and “away.”

The first match will be an “away” match on March 12 in Sri Lanka. The team will then return to play the “home” match at Changlingmithang on March 17.

Ugen Tsechup Dorji, president of Bhutan Olympic Committee, thanked FIFA for financing the team for the qualifiers.

“We couldn’t participate in the world cup qualifiers before because of the budget issues,” said Ugen Tsechup Dorji.

Ugen Tsechup Dorji said that because the national team was selected very recently, it would be too much to ask from the young national team. “The new team had a very limited time to train together.”

However, since all the players are experienced, he said that he is hopeful the squad will give their best, at least at the “home” match.

“We need strong home crowd to support the team during their match on 17th,” said Ugen Tsechup Dorji.

Coach Chokey Nima said that the team is making the best use of the limited time and the team will be fully prepared before going to Sri Lanka.

“We will give our best,” said Chokey Nima.

Kuenga Gyeltshen, who plays as the left-winger for the national team, said that the team is practicing everyday under an experienced coach.

“I cannot guarantee 100 percent win. But we’ll fight till the last minute,” said Kuenga Gyeltshen.

The national team will leave for Thailand for a tour by the end of February. The Thailand Football Association will support the team with accommodation there.

Bhutan is looking for a payback against the Lankans for their 2-5 defeat at the South Asian Football Federation match held at Katmandu in Nepal last year.

By Younten Tshedup