Thinley Namgay  

Bhutan will play against Pakistan in the second match of SAFF Under (U)-16 Championship at 7pm today. 

While this is the sixth appearance for Bhutan in the league, it is the first time the country is hosting the championship. 

India, Nepal, and Bangladesh will compete in Group A.  Bhutan, the Maldives, and Pakistan are placed in Group B.  All teams in a group will face each other once.   

India so far dominated the tournament with four titles. Officials from India and Bangladesh agreed that both teams are strong and expect it to be competitive. Both teams are concerned about the different climatic conditions. 

Bhutan’s U-16 national footballers played a friendly game against Sudeva FC’s U-17 team in Thimphu recently. The team trained rigorously for more than two months. 

Bhutan’s coach Yeshey Wangchuk is optimistic about the tournament considering their home advantage and more local supporters.  “We’re well-prepared to face Pakistan and the Maldives.”  

He said that the team can’t be intimidated by the physical prowess of the opponents. “We will ensure a competitive match. Anything can happen in the game and  I am confident about my boys.” 

Pakistan’s coach Sajjad Mehmood said that his team would not underestimate Bhutan. “When we played in the 2013 SAFF Championship in Nepal, Bhutan played well. They are a good team.”

Sajjad Mehmood said that his players were selected from various districts and expected a better result.      

Nepal’s coach Rabindra Silakar said that his team is looking forward to a competitive match against India and Nepal. “In the previous championships, the game against India used to be difficult for us. We will try our best.” 

The U-16 championship provides a glimpse of future stars of South Asian football, a platform for the exchange of knowledge and expertise between players and coaches, and fosters friendship. 

All the matches will be live-streamed on the Sportzworkz YouTube channel. 

The tournament will end on September 10 with the final game between the winners of two groups.  Team Maldives will arrive in the country today.