Football: A German coach, Torsten Spittler, will lead the Bhutanese national team into the second leg of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 play-off qualifiers against Bangladesh on October 10 at the Changlimithang Stadium.

The 54-year-old German officially took over as the national head coach on October 1. He played an important part during the first leg at Dhaka in Bangladesh.

With almost 30 years of experience in the sport, Torsten Spittler specialises in developmental football.  He started his career as a youth coach, followed by assistant coach with the under-16 German National Team.

Prior to taking over as the national head coach of Bhutan, Torsten Spittler worked with the Oman Football Association as a talent development and performance expert. He was also the head coach with Nepal’s national team in 1999.

Spittler’s association with the Bhutan Football Federation began last year when he visited the country for a short while as an instructor to local coaches.

“I come from Munich, a mountainous place just like Bhutan. After serving in the desert for a year, it feels good to be back to the mountains,” he said.

Although Spittler had not taken over the team as the head coach, tips and tricks from the German saw the Bhutanese team hold the host Bangladesh to a goalless draw on September 5.

“We have a good team here, but there is still a lot that we need to do,” said Spittler. “The level we are currently at is not very high. This is where we need to do our best and win games.”

Bhutan and Bangladesh, Spittler said, are on a almost similar level. “We know our opponent and they know us. We need to strengthen our defence and at the same time try to score,” he said, adding that the main problem for the team could probably come from the long and high balls the Bangladeshis are accustomed to play against the Bhutanese side.

The lack of taller player in the team, Spittler said, could be a deterring factor but he is confident that his team will perform better at home. “If the boys don’t stress much and remember what they learn during the practise sessions, we have a chance to win.”

The German has plans for the local leagues as well. If all goes as planned, Spittler wants to help groom the local clubs and the leagues.

“If there are strong local leagues, the national team automatically becomes stronger,” said Spittler.

He added that after the Bangladesh game, he and his team will further scout for players for the national team and provide opportunities to those with potential.

“I’ve seen progress with the national team and, with proper guidance, we can further promote this growth,” said Spittler. “We have good individual talents, but its time we functioned like a team.”

Torsten Spittler holds a master’s degree in Sport-Science from the Technical University Munich.

Younten Tshedup