Football: In the battle of the islanders and the highlanders, the more agile Maldivians defeated the Bhutanese 3-1 in the second game of the SAFF Suzuki Cup at the Trivandrum International stadium in Kerala, India.

The Bhutanese team was put under pressure from the first whistle of the game. The pressure paid off for the Red Snappers when their striker, Imaaz Ahmed, netted in the first goal in the ninth minute of the first half.

Trailing by a goal down in the early minutes of the game, the Dragon Boys almost seemed dumbfounded by the quick Maldivian gameplay. However, ten minutes later, Tshering Dorji, rose to the occasion just like he did during the first match against Sri Lanka on March 12. The youngster booted in his third international goal for his country.

But, at the 31st minute, Asadhulla Abdulla converted a free kick to take the lead before half time.

Bhutan played comparatively well in the second half of the game. In the 52nd minute, Biren Basnet, missed a goal-scoring opportunity when his strike hit the woodwork. Karma Shedrup Tshering also failed to convert a one-on-one opportunity with goalie Mohamed Imran.

Hari Gurung was the busiest player on the field throughout the match. The goalie made several crucial saves keeping the hopes of the Bhutanese alive in the game.

However, Hari, was not able to stop the maldivian skipper, Ali Ashfaq, who played a part in his team’s first two goals. Ashfaq, after weaving the ball past five of the Bhutanese defenders outside the box, booted in a powerful left-footer to secure three points for Maldives.

Bhutan will play the next game against the defending champions Afghanistan tomorrow at the Trivandrum International Stadium.

Younten Tshedup