Road to Russia 2018: Bhutan, East timor record wins in opening World Cup qualifiers


Tshering Dorji scored the only goal of the match in the 84th minute for the small Himalayan nation, ranked last of the 209 teams in FIFA’s rankings, in steamy Colombo.

Before Thursday, Bhutan had only three wins to their name and were beaten 5-2 by Sri Lanka in their last international match at the 2013 South Asian Football Championships in Kathmandu.

The performance from the side, who were once thrashed 20-0 by Kuwait in an Asian Cup qualifier in 2000, drew praise from even FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

“A wonderful, historic moment. Bhutan, ranked 209/209 in world, won their 1st ever #WCQ today, 1-0 in Sri Lanka,” Blatter said on his Twitter handle.

After Bhutan, Brunei also won for the first time in the World Cup qualifiers, beating Taiwan with a 36th-minute goal from Adi Said while Cambodia defeated Macau 3-0 in Phnom Penh.

Lowly East Timor earlier kicked off the long and winding road to Russia 2018 by registering their first ever World Cup qualifying win, a 4-1 success over Mongolia in Dili.

Striker Chiquito Filipe do Carmo scored the first goals of the three-year qualifying campaign that will see all of FIFA’s 208 members play more than 800 matches to determine which 31 sides will join the hosts at the finals.

The victory was only the fourth the 185th-ranked East Timor achieved since becoming FIFA members in 2005.

Such was the excitement for the fixture in the Portuguese-speaking Southeast Asian nation, that a big screen was erected outside the Municipal Stadium for fans who couldn’t get their hands on one of the 10,000 tickets on sale.

They would have seen their diminutive striker, better known as Quito, strike in the seventh and 10th minutes before Brazilian-born Rodrigo Silva netted a third in the 89th minute and substitute Neto grabbed a fourth in stoppage time.

Batmonkhiin Erkhembayar grabbed a late consolation for the visitors to give them some slight hope of overturning the deficit in the second leg in Mongolia on Tuesday.

In other matches, India host Nepal while Yemen will play Pakistan.

The six aggregate winners will move into the second round of the Asian World Cup campaign, which doubles as the qualifiers for the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup, where the likes of regional powerhouses Japan, Australia and Iran enter the fold.

credit: reuters

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