The Bhutanese national team will have an opportunity to redeem themselves from the two defeats the team suffered at the hands of the Maldives when they take on the islander in the second game of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers today at the Changlimithang Stadium.

The national head coach, Torsten Spittler, during a press conference said that considering the past matches and the results between the two teams, the game today will be an open contest.

The German said that Bhutanese squad has been undergoing serious training and since all the players are in their top form, the team has a good chance to win at home. “Since the level of the two teams are at par, it should be an open game. I have a good feeling for tomorrow’s game.”

However, given the recent 14-0 hammering from Oman, Torsten Spittler said that the situation in the team has become difficult. “I never lost with that margin as a player or even as child before,” he said. “For me, it was a whole new experience and, honestly, I still don’t really have an explanation for the results.”

The head coach said that team did well during the practise matches in Bangkok. “When I review the match again, they did everything wrong that could have gone wrong. It was difficult to say what to change because everything needed to be changed.”

However, the coach is optimistic of the chances against the Red Snappers at home today. Torsten Spittler said that the good thing from the defeat against Oman was that the team has been at the bottom and the way forward now was only to go up.

“Sometimes we have setbacks but the good thing is that we can prove ourselves by overcoming the setbacks. We have the opportunity tomorrow and we will use this opportunity to show that this team can do better,” said the coach.

Meanwhile, the visitors after losing 3-0 in their first game against Palestine are hoping to stay in the qualifiers. The head coach, Darren Stewart, said that the team is confident of their chances against the Dragon Boys and are expecting three points at the end of the game.

The previous two matches between Bhutan and the Maldives has been close. In December 2015, the Red Snappers defeated the national team by 3-1 in the second game of the SAFF Suzuki Cup in Kerala, India. On March 30, 2016, the Dragon boys were 10 minutes short of registering its first win in the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Maldives at the national stadium in Male.

“The preparation has been good so far and the weather and altitude is not much of a problem,” said the Australian. “Hopefully this time it is not a close game because close games are not good for the heart, for the coach and for the team. I just hope we can score few goals and get the three points.”

The Bhutanese star, Chencho Gyeltshen, will be in action with some new local faces in the first-eleven. The absence of the Maldivian skipper, Ali Ashfaq, who raised terror in the Bhutanese defence line in the past games, will miss the match due to an injury.

However, Darren Stewart is confident with his new captain, Ashadh Ali who will play in the centre.

The match will kick off at 6pm today.

Younten Tshedup 

Additional reporting by Nima