Thinley Namgay

The senior national men’s football team is gearing up for this year’s first international match against the Central African Republic on March 22 in the inaugural FIFA World Series, a four-nation football tournament to be held in Sri Lanka.

This match will mark Bhutan’s debut encounter with an African country, signifying a significant milestone for Bhutanese football.

The Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) sees the inclusion of African nations in the tournament as a valuable opportunity for Bhutanese footballers to gain exposure and enhance their skills.

Joining Bhutan, the Central African Republic, and Sri Lanka in the tournament will be Papua New Guinea, adding further competitive dynamics to the event.

Among the participating nations, the Central African Republic and Papua New Guinea are recognised as formidable opponents, boasting higher international football rankings compared to Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

Central African Republic and Papua New Guinea stand as the competent teams. As per the international football ranking as of February this year, Bhutan ranks 184, Sri Lanka 204, Central African Republic 129, and Papua New Guinea 165.

The upcoming match against Central African Republic is anticipated to be challenging, given their strong footballing tradition and physical attributes.

Nevertheless, the Bhutanese team remains optimistic and is diligently preparing for the tournament under rigorous training sessions at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu.

While acknowledging the Central African Republic’s strengths, Bhutanese officials and players are determined to put forth their best performance.

Bhutan’s footballing journey has shown promising signs of improvement over the years, with notable victories such as the 2-0 win against Hong Kong last year.

Despite facing formidable opponents, Bhutan’s players demonstrate resilience and tactical prowess on the field.

Following the match against the Central African Republic, Bhutan will face Sri Lanka on March 25. However, FIFA regulations dictate that each country must participate in two games in the tournament, meaning Bhutan will not compete against Papua New Guinea. 

Football enthusiasts acknowledge the progress in Bhutanese football quality but emphasise the need for continued investment by the BFF to facilitate players’ development through more international exposure. 

The FIFA World Series, spanning from March 18 to March 26 across four host nations – Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait – aims to promote intercontinental football interactions, foster unity, and enhance skill development among participating nations.