Thinley Namgay

Bhutan men’s national football team will not participate in the 2021 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship which will occur later this year in October in Nepal or the Maldives.

The 13th edition of championship is biennial international men’s football championship of South Asia organised by SAFF.

Of the seven participating countries, only five countries—India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka will participate in the tournament.

Pakistan Football Federation is ineligible to participate in the championship as FIFA sanctioned them on April 7.

Following the suspension of Pakistan and Bhutan’s withdrawal, the tournament format was changed from group and knockout stage to a single group round-robin format where the top two teams advance to the final.

According to SAFF, the tournament was postponed from its original date of 2020 to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bangladesh was supposed to host the competition but withdrew due to the pandemic.

Bhutan Football Federation’s Media and Marketing Officer, Phuntsho Wangdi, said the federation had decided not to join the championship due to the pandemic.

Moreover, he said that the BoB Bhutan Premier League was ongoing, and all the national team players are representing their respective club. “We haven’t organised separate training for the national team. Only two months are left for the tournament, and even if we practice, it won’t be very effective.”

Nepal and the Maldives are bidding to host the tournament.

“We will practice well and participate in the next season,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

Bhutan has participated in the SAFF championship since 2008.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk


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