The match kicks off at 6pm at the Changlingmithang stadium

The national league champions 2016-17, Transport United FC will host the former runners up of AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC in the first leg of 2018 AFC Cup preliminary round at the Changlingmithang stadium in Thimphu today.

In the pre-match press conference yesterday, Transport United coach Ngawang Dhendup said that his team would take advantage of playing at home. “We would tactically go for the attack. We have been practicing for a month and we have the entire game situation that would favor us,” he said. “Bengaluru playing B-division players would be an advantage for us too.”

Transport United’s plan to hire an Indian striker who was with the club in the entire national league season last year was canceled. However, the club expects a player from Africa to join the squad today.

Ngawang Dhendup said he would be playing the club’s striker Kencho Tobgay, who played strong to secure a spot in the AFC during the national league matches last year.

Kencho Tobgay who joined Transport United for the national league season last year said his aim was to play the AFC cup. “Winning the national league in a year was amazing. We have the same hope,” he said.

Transport United has six national players in the squad.

The playoff against Bengaluru FC would be Ngawang Dhendup’s return to the tournament as a coach after 10 years. He last played the tournament as Transport United player in 2008. He said then, the championship was at a different level.

Bengaluru FC, which is currently leading the Indian Super league (ISL), would be playing the playoff in the mid of AFC cup preliminary round and ISL fixtures.

Coach Albert Roca said it is difficult for his side to play both ISL and preliminary matches. “We did squad rotations and I am confident with the squad,” he said. “We have to prepare our young players. It is a good opportunity to show their talents and prove their worth.”

He added that his team expects good results and qualify for the next round. “It is an important competition.”

The club has placed its AFC cup preliminary round fate on the young squad, despite the club facing Transport United for the first time.  The club has seven B-division players in the squad.

Bengaluru finished second in the previous edition of AFC Cup. The club qualified for the competition after winning federation cup last year.

With Bengaluru’s skipper Sunil Chhetri left for the ISL fixtures, the goalkeeper, Lalthuammawia Ralte will lead the squad. Lalthuammawia Ralte said that the playoff would be a different experience for the team.  “The match is played outside India and we face a different team,” he said.

The second leg of the preliminary round will be played at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru in India on January 30.


Additional reporting by Tenzin Thinley and Chimi Rinzin