Football: Many young and upcoming players on the current national squad will have an opportunity to make an impression when Bhutan takes on neighbour India in an unofficial friendly game on August 13 at Changlimithang Stadium.

Bhutan Football Federation selected its 2016/17-season squad earlier in June. Along with most of the former players making it back on the team, 13 new players were also selected.

The national players were selected based on their performance during the Thimphu league.

Sixteen-year-old Mikyo Dorji is one of the newest members on the squad. The class XI student of St. Joseph’s School, North Point in Darjeeling is on a weeklong leave for the match against India.

“This is my first time playing on the national team with senior players who I look up to,” said Mikyo Dorji. “As much as I’m proud and excited to play for the country, it is a nervous moment for me.”

However, the goalkeeper is hopeful that he will be selected for the game and seize the opportunity he has been longing for sometime. “I’ll give my 100 percent.”

Another promising young athlete on the team is Kencho Tobgay of Thimphu FC. Considered to be one of the finest strikers in the country today, Kencho Tobgay couldn’t be a part of the national team before because of his studies.

With his studies now completed, the 25 year old is back on the pitch doing what he does best. After having a very successful national and Thimphu league this season, Kencho Tobgay is ready for the friendly.

“This friendly game is a perfect opportunity for the young players like us to get much needed exposure,” said Kencho Tobgay. “With the recent World Cup qualifiers, the standard of football in our country has improved a lot. We need more of such friendlies to keep improving.”

With all the previous records against India considered, the striker believes that this time around, the Bhutanese side has a good chance to win. “We have the home ground advantage. Even if we lose, the margin won’t be as large as before because we have a good team.”

The national team is currently practising for the friendly that started from yesterday. In an earlier interview with the head coach, Pema, players for the friendly match will be selected based on the performance during the weeklong practice.

Meanwhile, team India arrived in the country yesterday.

Younten Tshedup