Thinley Namgay

The Under (U)-19 Dragon Boys will play against India and Bangladesh,  two formidable teams, in the fifth U-19 SAFF Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal from September 21 to 30.

The Dragon Boys landed in Nepal yesterday for the championship, which marks its fourth appearance.

The championship will host six countries: Bhutan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Pakistan. Bhutan is placed with India and Bangladesh in Group B.

Pakistan is the newcomer. Two games will be played in the league, and the top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals.

In the last four editions, India and Nepal bagged two titles each. The defending champions India won last year and in 2019. Nepal was the winner of the 2015 and 2017 editions.

Bhutan will face Bangladesh on September 23 and India on September 25 at the Dasharath Stadium.

Bhutan’s assistant coach Sonam Dendup said the Dragon Boys aim for a decent game. He said the current squad comprises of players mostly from the BFF Academy and are competent.

“My boys are playing in the ongoing Bhutan Premier League, which improved our preparation for the SAFF Championship,” he said.

Of the last three competitions, Bhutan stood fourth in 2017 and 2019. In 2019, Bhutan won against Nepal 3-0 and maintained a goalless draw against the Maldives. However, Bhutan lost to Bangladesh 4-0 in the semifinal.

In 2017, Bhutan won against the Maldives and Nepal by a goal each.