Thinley Namgay  

Bhutan’s dream to reach the semifinals of the ongoing SAFF Under-16 Championship in Thimphu hinges on the outcome of a crucial match against the Maldives today.

The match will be played at the Changlimithang Stadium at 7pm.

To secure a spot in the semifinals from group B, Bhutan must either secure a victory or settle for a draw. With the support of thousands of Bhutanese spectators and the advantage of playing on home turf, the Bhutanese team is determined to clinch a victory.

Bhutan’s coach, Yeshi Wangchuk, expressed the significance of this match, saying, “This is a pivotal moment for us. While a draw with the Maldives would see us through, our primary objective is to win the game.”

In light of the team’s earlier defeat by Pakistan in their first match, strategic adjustments have been made in the defense and attacking positions to ensure a stronger performance against the Maldives.

Yeshi Wangchuk pointed out that despite scoring the first goal against Pakistan, the team struggled to control the opponent’s pressing game tactics. He also noted that the forward players couldn’t execute the game plan effectively, and there were instances of missed passes.

In another match today, India will go head-to-head with Nepal from group A at 3pm, marking the completion of all league games.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals. As of yesterday, India and Bangladesh, both from Group A, have accumulated three points each. If Nepal secures a victory against India with a higher goal margin, they could potentially secure a place in the semifinals.

Pakistan, from Group B, has already qualified for the semifinals with six points. Pakistan secured victories against the Maldives (3-0) and Bhutan (2-1). Their success can be attributed to the physical prowess of their players and the performance of their skilled wingers and midfielders during the league matches.