Football: Veteran player Chencho returns to the national team after a three-year hiatus in the recently released 36-men national squad list.

The 30-year-old who played for the senior national team retired after suffering a knee injury in 2013. Chencho’s final game as a national player was at the 2013 South Asian Football Federation Championship in Nepal.

However, the injury did not deter Chencho from pursuing his passion and love of the game. It took almost two years for him to recover from the injury. “Even while injured I made sure I was constantly in touch with the game,” said Chencho.

He returned to the field last year after he joined Thimphu City FC. Chencho  however, remained on the bench for most part of the season.

With hard work and dedication Chencho made it to the first-eleven in coach Passang Tshering’s list this year. The defender even lifted both the Thimphu and national league titles with his new team.

With over 10 years of experience playing for the country, Chencho’s abilities can be an asset for the national team if he makes it into the 23-men squad list for the upcoming 2019 AFC Cup qualifiers.

“The competition has become tougher now. There are many talented players in the country today,” said Chencho. “Making it into the final 23-men national team will be a challenge and I’m up for it.”

With his strong physical presence and quickness in games, Chencho is today considered one of the top defenders in the country. He believes that good players don’t always make it into the team. “If you are not in your top form, even if you are the best player in the country, you cannot expect to be on the national team. This is football.”

Bhutan Football Federation’s selection procedure for the national squad has been through open selections and based on the performance of the players during the local leagues. This, Chencho believes, is a fair opportunity to all with talent and passion for the game.

Chencho is also the first Bhutanese to play for a club outside Bhutan. He played for Royal Wahingdoh FC in Shillong, Meghalaya from 2010 to 2013. Royal Wahingdoh FC is a second division club in the Indian League (I-League) and holds the record for the highest number of consecutive Shillong Premier League titles.

At the club, Chencho was positioned as a striker where he scored at least 13 goals per season. “I was at my best form then. I believe today I’m in an even better form,” he said, adding that if he makes it to the final 23, this would be his last international game.

Younten Tshedup