Thinley Namgay 

Ugyen Academy (UA) began Bhutan Higher Secondary School Football Championship (BHSSFC) journey with an easy win against Chukha Central School (CS) 6-1 yesterday in an inaugural game in Phuentsholing.

UA controlled the opponent both technically and tactically. UA is one of the regular teams in the Bhutan Premier League (BPL) and has been competing with top teams.

UA’s Kelzang Jigme scored the opening goal in the 16th minute through a penalty. Yonten N Sherpa doubled the lead in the 27th minute followed by Santa Kumar Limboo four minutes later to seal the first half 3-0.

Chukha CS pulled back one in the 62nd minute through Sherab Tharchen. Sherub Tharchen rose to the occasion near the goalie following an assist from Chimi Nidup.

However, UA responded with three more goals to end the match 6-1.

Santa Kumar Limboo of UA scored the brace two minutes after the opponent’s goal, followed by a hattrick seven minutes later. In the dying minutes, Tenzin Wangda scored the sixth goal of the team.

The recent BPL young emerging player awardee Santa Kumar Limboo of UA was declared the man of the match.

UA’s coach Denka said,. “I must say that my team didn’t play a game up to their full potential. They could have played better.”

“I do appreciate Chukha CS. They too played well.  Chukha’s players were physically fit despite less technical ability,” she said.

Denka said UA expects to win the championship as most of the players featured in the recently concluded BPL.

“UA is competing in the BHSSFC right after the BPL and training has been consistent,” Denka said.

Chukha’s coach Sonam Wangchuk said the match was challenging.

“My players played well although the opponent was much better than us. Being the first match, my players lacked confidence and couldn’t dominate the ball possession.”

“UA is the best team among HSSs and has been training throughout the year,” he said, adding that Chukha played a defensive game to prevent goals.

Sonam Wangchuk said his team also had good training and expect a good result.

Eight HSSs are participating in the nine-day league cum knockout tournament.  These schools are the winners and runners-up of four regional tournaments held between August and November.

The other teams are Gyalpozhing HSS, Gesarling HSS, Jakar HSS, Baylling CS, Nangkor CS, and Yangchenphug HSS.

Bayling CS will face Jakar HSS and Yangchenphug HSS will play against Gesarling HSS today.

The BHSSFC winner will represent Bhutan in the South Asia High School Football Championship. Bhutan Football Federation and the Department of Youth and Sports are conducting the tournament.

BHSSFC aims to foster mass participation in football at the grassroots level and enhance youth football quality.