In the South Asian Zone qualifiers

Thinley Namgay

Champions of the BOB Bhutan Premier League, Paro FC will play against Defenders FC of Sri Lanka in the preliminary round of the South Asian Zone qualifiers for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation Cup (AFC) on January 22, in Sri Lanka.

This is the first time that Paro FC is participating in the international competitionsince its inception in 2018.

Paro FC’s Technical Director and Head Coach, Puspalal Sharma said he is confident of putting up a tough fight.  “We have already started our preparation and we are confident to face any opponent,” he said.  “Our players have undergone two weeks of training right after the intense league. I am happy to see that the boys are coping well with our training.”

As the winner of the BOB- Bhutan Premier League, this year, Paro FC gets an automatic spot to represent Bhutan in the AFC Cup which is a tournament for the Asian Clubs. Puspalal Sharma said the AFC Club tournament would provide a platform to compete with the higher ranked clubs in Asia.

Paro FC dominated the entire BOB Bhutan Premier league this year losing only a single game of the 18 matches played and became the first club from Paro to win the league after years of dominance by Thimphu based clubs.

Puspalal Sharma said that the AFC provides subsidy to participate in the tournament. “Such opportunity would further help us to plan and develop football meaningfully and systematically to reach the level of a top clubs in Asia.”

The home match will be played in Changlimithang on January 29. The winner of the tie will then face the champions of the Hero Indian Super League, Bengaluru FC in the preliminary round two on February 5.

Paro FC has planned for pre-match departure ahead of time to adapt before playing their first leg against Defenders FC. “I have not heard much about Defenders FC. There are no enough videos and reviews of the team, but we are making the best of the minimum available information to prepare against them.”

The 2020 AFC Cup is the 17th edition and it is the Asia’s secondary club football tournament organised by the AFC.