After diplomatic encumbrances led to the cancellation of India’s preseason USA tour, the blue tigers and Bhutanese dragons will take to the Changlimithang stadium in a last minute arranged friendly at 4 pm on Saturday.
The Indian players arrived Monday to acclimatize to the altitude change from 216m at Delhi, where they were at a pre-season training camp, to Changlimithang’s 2650m. India’s British-Cypriot manager Stephen Constantine is known to favor the 4-2-3-1 as does Bhutan.
With East Bengal and Bengaluru players denied the trip by their respective clubs the manager has an unfamiliar team. However, he has a host of excellent talent in midfield in the feet of Rowllin Borges, Pronay Halder and Aizawl FC skipper David Lalrinmuana all coming off the back of a successful season.
Bhutan will have skipper Karma Tshering in midfield with Chencho Gyeltshen the all time leading goal scorer spearheading the attack. Hari Gurung is the first team choice at goal.
Bhutan has lost all five fixtures against India but with the relatively inexperienced Indian side and the manager’s unfamiliarity with his new team could be the chance for Bhutan to record its first victory over India.
Whatever the results, Bhutan will be pleased at the chance at a warm-up game with India before the two Asian Cup Qualifiers legs against Bangladesh. They play away at Bangladesh on September 6 and the second leg at home on October 11.
Bhutan is ranked at 192, India at 152 and Bangladesh at 183.