Former assistant coach of the national football team, Pema is now managing the national squad for the home match against Oman in the second last match of the AFC Asian cup 2019 qualifier on November 14.
Coach Pema stepped in about a week ago following the exit of German coach Torsten Spittler last month. Bhutan lost (10-0) to Palestine on October 10.
The squad resumed their training for the qualifier match from October 23. Except for weekends, the team undergoes two hours of training everyday.
Bhutan will play the second leg of the qualifier against Oman and it is the second face-off between the two. The first playoff between Bhutan and Oman was played in March this year at the beginning of AFC Asian cup qualifier campaign. Oman hammered Bhutan (14-0).
Coach Pema has the experience of leading the boys since he first took over the squad in the match against the Maldives during the world cup group stage qualification in 2015.
He continued leading the team against Hongkong at home. Of the two home games he managed, the result was close although Bhutan lost both matches with a close margin of 3:4 to the Maldives and 0:2 to Hongkong.
His return to the team will be his sixth match as the national team’s head coach. He was also with the squad when Bhutan played away against China and the Maldives in the world cup qualifier.
“I was with the boys most of the time and they are familiar with me,” he said.
Coach Pema was assisting the German coach throughout the AFC Asian Cup qualifier matches. Although Bhutan was eliminated from the qualifier after a 10-0 defeat from Palestine, coach Pema said that he would take the opportunity to bring back the squad from the continuous loss.
“People have been commenting on the continuous loss suffered by the boys despite failing to understand their improved performance and standard of the play. They see only the result and I expect a better result this time. It would either be a draw or 0-1 lost,” said the coach.
He said that the performance of the boys at home was good to date. “We have the home and altitude advantage. The boys play a different game at home and we have a key player returning to the squad,” he said.
Despite a tough fight, the team lost to Palestine 0-2 at home in September.
However, he said that loss of potential players to injury and those undergoing treatment could be a challenge for the team against Oman.
The three points from Bhutan helped Palestinian qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 on October 14.
In the away match, Coach Pema said that the performance of the boys against Palestine was hampered by the two hours traveling time between the venue and hotel and the absence of key players in the midfield positions.
Federation officials said that the national team would be without a permanent head coach until next year as the federation is looking for support from international football confederation to get an experienced coach.