Bhutanese side in new hands, expects a better game against HK in the return leg

Football: Led by a new coach and new skipper, Bhutan is all poised to take on Hong Kong, at the Changlimithang stadium today.

The interim head coach, Pema served as the assistant coach during the qualification rounds till date. He took over the team soon after the premature departure of the head coach Norio Tsukitate following a controversy with the manager in the game against Maldives.

During the pre-match press conference yesterday, Pema said taking charge of the national team in the middle of the big tournament has put immense pressure on him. “Within four days, I cannot change the techniques and the system, all I can do is make the team work harder.” He said that the team has been preparing well for the game and all the players are in form.

“We have analysed the game against Hong Kong and most probably we are going for a defensive approach this time. I hope the game will be much better than it was at Hong Kong,” he said.

This is exactly the former coach Norio Tsukitate, who left the country yesterday morning, did not want from the team.

Speaking to Kuensel the night before he left, the former coach said he did not want a win by playing defensive game although his intention in every game was to win.

“They (players) lacked basic techniques and winning a game by always taking a defensive approach will not improve the players,” he said adding the young players have the skills, which could be honed with more practice. The former coach said that he was building the team for the future from scratch.

However, the new skipper, Karun Gurung, is positive that the new coach would take the team in the right direction. “Within few days the coach may not be able to bring much change in the team and the players also cannot adapt to the change, but I’m sure the enthusiasm, coach Pema brings, would surely motivate the players.”

Hong Kong’s head coach, Kim Pan-Gon seems confident but he said that they are not taking any chances against the home team, with the recent development exhibited by the Bhutanese team.

Kim Pan-Gon said that the untimely departure of the former coach came to him as a surprise. “As a coach I’m pained by this event. It was a very good development of football in Bhutan but now he is gone,” he said.

The Hong Kong coach expects two reactions from the premature departure of the coach. “Either Bhutan will show a strong team spirit and perform better than ever, or drop down and disappoint themselves.”

“After seeing a few videos of the Bhutanese team, they have improved a lot technically and tactically, we will be taking this match very seriously.” the South Korean coach said.

He said in the last game against Maldives, Bhutan didn’t just play defensive but were attacking till the end. “This sort of confidence and development is necessary,” he said. The 46-year-old coach added that the home advantage and high altitude might favour the Bhutanese side.

Bhutan conceded seven goals without a reply at the Mongkok stadium in Hong Kong in the first leg of the Group C qualifier. Hong Kong is in second in the table with seven points behind Qatar.

Younten Tshedup