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Bhutan, world’s worst soccer team, advances to next stage of World Cup qualifying – SportsUntapped.com
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Added March 23rd, 2015 by Ian

Bhutan, world’s worst soccer team, advances to next stage of World Cup qualifying
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The Bhutan men’s national football team went into their two-legged 2018 World Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka in dead last place at 209 in the FIFA rankings. However, the squad managed to pull off a huge upset by winning both matches and now face the likes of regional big boys such as Korea, Australia and Japan in the next round. Bhutan managed to stun the 174th-ranked Sri Lankans 1-0 on the road in Colombo in the first leg of the tie and then beat them five days later at home to secure a spot in the second round of qualifying.

All Bhutan needed in the second leg was a draw to progress to the Asian group stage of World Cup qualification. It would be deemed something of a miracle since the team may sometimes go a year or two between official games. Bhutan wasn’t about to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass and the players were looking for all the outside help they could muster by visiting a local monastery where they could receive the blessing of monks. The squad members sipped on holy water just a few hours before the second leg kicked off and a pair of dice was also produced.

It’s believed that some Buddhists and even the Dalai Lama often consult dice when they’re about to make an important decision. The team’s skipper Karma Shedrup Tshering threw the dice before the match with odd numbers representing good luck and even numbers being the opposite. Tshering threw odd numbers and the stage was set. Bhutan went on to win the contest 2-1-courtesy of a late goal and were through to the next stage. Coaches and players were in tears and embraced each other while many of the side’s 20,000 supporters rushed down from the stands to celebrate with the team.

Bhutan is the lowest ranked team on the globe due to their previous performances which include a 20-0 loss in one particular match. Chokey Nima, the 45-year-old manager of the squad said he’d look forward to a game against Japan in the next round. Fans were given free entry to Bhutan’s Changlimithang Stadium for the contest with Sri Lanka and there were thousands more waiting outside who lined up to buy shirts. In addition, civil servants were allowed to go home early to watch the encounter on television.

Chencho Gyeltshen, who is the only professional on the team, scored an early goal to give his side the lead, but Sri Lanka equalized just before the ref blew the halftime whistle. Sri Lanka threw everything they had at Bhutan, but it was all for naught when the 24-year-old Chencho scored his second goal of the game just before the final whistle. The Sri Lankan coach said after the match, “I can say, deep in my heart, I will cheer for Bhutan in the group stage. “Look at the crowd. They deserve this. This country deserves it more.”

Bhutan may now leapfrog over 208th-ranked Anguilla in the FIFA standings due to their two impressive wins over Sri Lanka. However, Anguilla also has qualifying matches coming up later in March.

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