Bhutan’s star striker Chencho Gyeltshen believes that the experience he gained while playing for some big clubs in the subcontinent, including Bangladesh, can help guide his teammates to their target in the SAFF Championship, which begins on Tuesday at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Gyeltshen, who is affectionately called CG7 in Bhutan, played in the 2016-17 Bangladesh Premier League season for Chittagong Abahani. He scored five goals in seven matches to guide the port city outfit to their second place finish, behind champions Dhaka Abahani. Gyeltshen then joined an Indian League side, Minerva Punjab, and helped them become champions by scoring seven goals and two assists. He now plays for another Indian Super League side, Bengaluru F, who became last season’s runners-up.
“I got more experience by playing at big clubs in the recent years. Maybe I can guide new players of the team, make them push harder and play as a team to achieve the target,” said a smiling Gyeltshen after the Bhutan national team checked in at a city hotel yesterday afternoon.
“It will be an advantage for me [playing in Chittagong Abahani] because I know almost all the players of Bangladesh and I even know their playing style. I’m also very used to winning at this Stadium, which will help me for sure,” said the 22-year-old striker, who wants his team to reach the SAFF Championship final.
“Most of the players are new in our squad. We still have to win at least two or three matches to qualify for the knockout stage though our target is to reach the final if it is possible,” said the lanky striker.
However, Gyeltshen believes that Bangladesh are still the favourites of Group A even though he struck a brace in their 3-1 win over Bangladesh in the 2016 Asian Cup Qualifiers play-off in Thimphu.
“The host team are favourites in our group. I don’t think Bangladesh are behind Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal. This time Bangladesh will play at home and will get support from their fans,” Gyeltshen said. “It will be a very interesting match [against Bangladesh] for the audience to watch. We won against Bangladesh before but we are not underestimating them because they have many new players in this side. Football is something where you cannot underestimate opponents. We will try to fight them till the final whistle.”
No footballer from Bhutan has ever drawn as much attention as Gyeltshen, who gradually got the media’s attention through his goal-scoring abilities as well as by playing beyond the Bhutan league.