Preparing for the second round of the World Cup qualifying match

After a historic win over Sri Lanka in the first round of World Cup qualifying match, Bhutan will now face the seven lowest ranked countries of the 40 nations qualified for the second round.

Bhutan could face Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, India, Timor-Leste and other 2 lowest ranked nations who will all be put in the same group. In the second round, 40 teams will be divided into eight groups of five to play home and away matches.

The draw for the second round fixtures will be held on April 14 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the matches will kick-off from June 11.

Bhutan will be playing eight international matches, four matches away and four matches at home in this round.

The eight teams who are group winners and the four best runners up teams comprising a total of 12 teams will advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifying match.

The next best 24 teams eliminated from the World Cup qualification in the second round will compete in the third round of 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

As per the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), for the second round, a Japanese coach, Tsukitate Norio, will take charge of the national team as head coach.

The earlier Japanese coach went back to Japan before the new Japanese coach’s appointment. When the National Football Team had to leave to Sri Lanka the Technical Director, BFF, Chokey Nima took the responsibility of head coach.

Chokey Nima said one or two players can be taken in as national team members if the players are really good during the national league which is to kick off from April 4th 2015.

With just a two- month timeframe left until the match in second round, Chokey Nima said the time should be used efficiently in building up the physical, technical aspects and there should exposure matches and analysis of games.

The Team Manager and Vice President, BFF, Hishey Tshering said the Bhutanese football players have talent, but lack proper technical guidance.

“Now we have to play with team of higher standard than us. It would be difficult to win any game, I guess, but we want to prepare- just to be competitive,” he added.

He said that the national footballers would be engaged in the local league matches, and therefore, there will be no long training programs for the second round of the World Cup qualifying match.

According to the President, BFF, Ugen Tsechup Dorji, BFF would seek support from either FIFA or Bhutan Olympic Committee and the government to take part in the second round of the World Cup qualifying match as BFF has spent its funds on just the first round. The average cost for the match played is Nu 3.5mn to Nu 4mn as of now.

He said that football cannot be developed unless there is more commitment and money to professionalize the sport and open it as a career path for the youth.

He said BFF has plans to provide equipment every two to three years, contribute towards infrastructure development and provide coaches.

He also suggested that the government could provide a special five-sport quota in the Royal Civil Service Commission to allow sportsmen to work in the civil service.

The National Football Team Captain, a pilot with Druk Air, Karma Shedrup Tshering said lack of professionalism as a football player is the biggest challenge. “If one wins, everything changes and if one loses, nothing changes,” he said.

He said that most of the players are either students or have other jobs, and it is difficult to have to work and then train and play together as a team.

Speaking on the dream for Bhutan to join World Cup, “Every football nation in the world would have a World Cup dream,” Ugen Tsechup Dorji said, adding that the countries that make to the World Cup spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the league, national league, training, and academy and for hiring coaches.

There are hopes that Bhutan would be able to compete in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and later in Asia. At present, BFF gets support from FIFA, AFC, and Japan Football Federation. Kuwait and Thailand also provides training grounds, equipment and training program for referees.

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