Thinley Namgay 

Pepsi Bhutan Premier League (BPL) Qualifiers 2023 which begins on April 30 will witness four new teams battle for a place in the league.

Tsirang FC, Samtse FC, Phuentsholing City FC, and South Druk United FC from Gelephu will play with Tensung FC, Namlha FC, Thimphu Raven FC, and BFF Academy at Royal Thimphu College ground until the first week of June.   

FC Takin, Paro Rinpung FC, Gelser United FC, FC Terton, and Friends United FC will not participate in the qualifier this season. BFF officials said the management of these clubs decided to withdraw for a season.

South Druk United FC’s Coach Suman Rai said the team training is on track and competition will be exciting for his players. “We don’t have foreign players; our expectation is high. Even if we win a few games, we will be satisfied.”

Most players of South Druk United FC are employed. Suman Rai said the team’s first game is against Tsirang FC and the boys are confident. “We hope to win.”

However, he said there were challenges during training due to lack of a quality pitch.

Norbu Tshering, a coach of Samtse FC said that except for six students, all other players are from 15 gewogs of the dzongkhag. “We have been training for the last two months. We will try our best.”

He said the funding is a major challenge for the club. “We are in the process of collecting donations.” The club has no sponsors.

Tsirang FC is also two months into training. The club’s coach Tul Bahadur Rai said three players are from Gelephu.  “The team is competent.”

“Our expectation is very high. We faced lots of challenges, such as player-shortage, training time, accommodating players in one place who came from a longer distance for training,” Tul Bahadur Rai said.

He said the weather will be different this time and most of the games are scheduled in the afternoon. “It will be difficult for players to adapt in the beginning.”

Phuentsholing City FC’s coach Thinley Dorji said the team is prepared to play their first game against Samtse FC.  He said that the current tournament will help his players gain exposure and it will be a platform to learn from others.

On April 30, Tensung FC will face Namlha FC, and Thimphu Raven FC will play against BFF Academy.

The top four teams of the qualifier will face Paro FC, Thimphu City FC, Druk Lhayul FC, RTC FC, Transport United FC, and Ugyen Academy FC in the 2023 BPL.