BHUTAN



With a semifinal place at the 2008 SAFF Suzuki Cup to boot, Bhutan will arrive in Bangladesh with the confidence that its fortunes may have finally turned. Victories over the Tigers (2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying playoffs) and Sri Lanka (2016 FIFA World Cup qualifier) in recent years has meant that Bhutanese football can finally harbour optimism. When the SAFF Suzuki Cup was jointly hosted by Sri Lanka and Maldives in 2008, Bhutan surprised observers by holding Bangladesh to a draw and recording a shock win over Afghanistan. Four points were enough to progress into the semis then, where India overcame the plucky Bhutanese only in extra time.

However, the 2008 SAFF Suzuki Cup remains the sole instance of Bhutan making its way past the group stage. When Bangladesh hosted the tournament in 2003 and '09, the Dragon Boys lost all six matches with a goal difference of -27. Over the past year or so, though, Bhutan would have enriched by its participation in the group stage of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier despite losing every game to Oman, Palestine, and Maldives.

The Bhutanese squad is currently coached by former East Bengal manager Trevor Morgan. The coach will be glad to have the services of Bhutan's biggest footballing star Chencho Gyeltshen, who was part of Minerva Punjab's successful I-League campaign. The 21-year-old has scored 11 times in 32 international appearances.

Bhutan will be captained, though, by midfielder Karma Shedrup Tshering while Jigme Tshering Dorji is a key figure in defence. Hari Gurung, with 23 caps, is likely to be the first-choice goalkeeper while Biren Basnet and Lhendup Dorji provide youthful energy to the midfield.
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