Thinley Namgay 

The lone Bhutanese international coach, Chencho Dorji is in Kolkata where his club, Sudeva FC will face Kolkata-based Mohammedan Sporting Club in the Hero I-League on January 9.

Chencho Dorji became the head coach in September 2020.

The Delhi-based Sudeva FC is the professional club founded in 2014 and won the bid to participate in the I- League this season for the first time.

Chencho Dorji said: “Mohammedan Sporting Club is one of India’s oldest clubs, but they haven’t played I-league so far. However, they were the champions of B-division I-league last year. Sudeva is ready.”

The 2021 I-league will be different from the previous seasons. All the 11 participating teams will play their games in three centralised stadiums at Kolkata due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Only 21 players and nine officials from each team are allowed to enter the pitch.

“My players are all Indian. We decided not to sign foreign players this season. There are many practice grounds at Kolkata. I hope to compete well,” said Chencho Dorji.

All I-league matches will be broadcast live on 1-sport, and three games will be played daily.

The RoundGlass Punjab FC, which has signed Chencho Gyeltshen last year, will play Aizawl FC, and Gokulum FC will play Chennai City FC on the same day.

“Sudeva FC signed 19 new players. All the new players have featured in the previous Indian Super League. We trained for almost three months,” said Chencho Dorji.

Chencho Dorji hails from Mongar and joined Sudeva FC in November 2019. He became the first Bhutanese coach to be hired by an international football academy in March 2019, when he became a new youth coach for Manipur-based FC Imphal City.