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Bhutan heads to SAFF Suzuki Cup with the young squad

Despite being fairly new to the squad, Trevor Morgan listed only six players from the previous squad for the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 championship that begins from September 4 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Morgan made the highest number of changes in the squad since Bhutan recorded the historic win over Sri Lanka in 2015. Most of the players that played against Sri Lanka made it to the starting list then.

Goalkeeper Hari Gurung, who plays for Transport United in domestic leagues, and Jigme Tshering Dorji of Thimphu City were dropped from the SAFF squad. The duo featured in every competitive game played by the national team.

Lhendup Dorji and Dawa Tshering are players who played several international games over the years.

National team left for a week-long training in Thailand on August 25. The team played two first friendly matches against Thailand’s professional clubs- Bangkok Glass FC and Buriram United B team.

The championship is only three days away.

The national team suffered 0-5 loss to Bangkok Glass FC and 1-2 to Buriram United B team.

Skipper Karma Shedrup Tshering said the squad is young with many new players. “We lack exposure and moreover the leagues in the country are at amateur level,” he said.

After duty with his new club Bengaluru FC, Chencho Gyeltshen joined the team for the week-long training.

The striker has two SAFF goals and scored a goal against Buriram United B team on August 30.

The championship in Dhaka will be the biggest tournament for Morgan.

Placed in Group A along with Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, national men’s football team will enter the championship as the second highest ranked in the group after Nepal.

The national team will enter the 12th edition of the championship without a win in last seven matches.

Bhutan played the first SAFF championship in 2003 and recorded the best record in 2008 when it reached semi-final.

Bhutan will play against the host Bangladesh on an opening day. The two will play each other after two years. Bhutan defeated Bangladesh 3-1 to progress to the group stage round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in 2016.

Nepal will also play the championship without competitive wins since 2016.

Pakistan is led by a coach from Brazil and enters the championship as the lowest ranked team in the championship.

Morgan said: “Preparation had been going well and I hope to take the team forward with each game.”

A total of seven countries will participate in the championship.

Ahead of the opening match against Bangladesh on wednesday, the boys will play their third pracice match against North Bangkok FC today.

Nima

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