Will play Indian Super League Champions, Bengaluru FC in next round

Thinley Namgay

Paro FC (PFC) narrowly qualified to the next round of the South Asian Zone Qualifiers for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2020 beating Defenders FC on the away goal rule.

The team from Paro took an early lead but its weakness in the return leg played at Changlimithang was not being able to hold on to the lead. Striker Chencho Gyeltshen scored a superb header in the 12th minute from a long throw, after it was flicked on by striker partner Dieudonne Fabassou. However, the lead lasted only three minutes.

Defenders FC equalised through Bernard following a swift move and assist from the unmarked striker Evans Asante.

The first half saw several chances from both teams but ended all square, 1:1. Paro FC took the lead again six minutes into the second half. Skipper Jigme Tshering Dorjee headed in the perfect cross from Kinley Tenzin to make it 2-1. But the lead this time lasted only one minute. 

Following the restart, Defenders FC’s midfielder, Abumere took advantage of a long pass and the confusion between Paro FC’s defenders and the goalie.  Abumere flicked the ball into the empty net beating the onrushing goalie, Gyeltshen Zangpo.

There was time for a decider with both teams searching for a winner. But they had to settle for a draw, which was in Paro FC’s advantage.

PFC will now play in the second round against Hero Indian Super League Champions, Bengaluru FC on February 5 at Changlimithang.

 PFC’s coach Jangchuk Dorji is worried if his first choice goalie would be ready for the match against Bengaluru FC. Gyeltshen Zangpo clashed with a defender in the dying minutes of the regular time and couldn’t continue.

Head Coach Puspalal Sharma said Gyeltshen Zangpo was taken to the national referral hospital and was awaiting a CT scan when this paper was sent to print.

Sri Lankan Coach, Dudley Lincoln Steinwall said he was glad that his team performed well as per their plan. “Tactically, Paro FC is a strong team and we competed well. We could have won the game if we capitalised on our chances. In the game. Anything can happen,” he said.

Chencho Gyeltshen was the man of the match. He said that he was happy but not satisfied with the performance. “We expected to perform much better at the home ground,” he said.  However, he said getting through to the second round was a huge achievement. “AFC is very important and our team has moved to next level. It’s a great achievement and we will play well with Bengaluru FC”

Coach Jangchuk said he was glad with the performance. “Bengaluru FC is a professional team, but we will prepare well and compete.”