Football: Bhutan lost 3-0 to the Indian national squad in the unofficial friendly match on August 13 at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu.

The Blue Tigers took an early lead when striker Sumeet Passi headed in the ball into the top-left-corner of the post in the very first minute of the game.

The pressure on the Dragon Boys was mounting as their opponents were becoming more comfortable on away soil. The physically superior Indians dominated a good part of the game.

The Indians doubled their lead in the 19th minute when skipper Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net through unsettled Bhutanese defence. Holicharan Narzary scored the third goal a minute later.

The Bhutanese team struggled to find their game on home ground. Catastrophe struck for the Dragon Boys when defender Chimi Dorji was sent off in the 50th minute after an argument with the referee.

The decision generated much criticism and confusion, both on the bench and among the crowd. Indian national coach Stephen Constantine also disapproved of the referee’s decision.

“The red card was absolutely ridiculous,” said Stephen Constantine. “It is a friendly game and there was no need for a red card. Referee should have informed the coach and made the substitute if the player was reacting.”

The pressure grew for the Bhutanese team as the team were down to 10 men with more than 40 minutes on the clock. However, the team did well in preventing further damage from the Indians.

The national stadium in Thimphu once again reverberated to the chant of “Bhutan”.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” said Kinley Tshering, a spectator at the stadium. “Our team did great besides playing with a man down. But we could have done better in the first half.” The spectators, including the Indian national coach Stephen Constantine, shared similar views.

The English coach said that although the match ended in their favour, the performance from his players was not up to his satisfaction. “It is difficult to motivate players when they already think the game is theirs,” said Stephen Constantine.

He said that after scoring an early goal in the first minute, the players took the game lightly, which was not advisable. “On paper, we are a strong team but the effort from the Bhutanese team was commendable.”

The Indian team will leave the country today.

Younten Tshedup