Football: Team Bhutan made football history when it beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in its first ever appearance in a World Cup qualifier, yesterday.

Bhutan adopted a defensive formation of 4-1-4-1 from the very start, disrupting several Sri Lankan attacks, on their home turf at Sugathadasa stadium in Colombo.

Bhutan’s defensive approach eventually paid off when central mid-fielder, Tshering Dorji, scored the winning and only goal of the match in the 86th minute.

The goal was scored following a deep run into the box by striker Chencho. His cross was deflected by the Sri Lankan keeper but the ball found its way to Tshering, who was just inside the edge of the penalty area. Controlling the ball with his left, he swiftly took advantage of the opening in the Sri Lankan defence and slammed the ball into the back of the Sir Lankan net with his right.

Bhutan’s stubborn defence prevailed for the rest of the match and the lowest ranked team in the world celebrated it way off the pitch and into history.

“Today’s game went as expected since we knew they’ll be coming out to attack and we wanted to get them on the counter attack which exactly happened and we scored,” team captain Karma Shedrup Tshering said. “We might’ve won today but the 17th is a different day and we are still the underdogs,” he added. “And in a game of football anything happen so we’ll be confident at the same time cautious  and expecting good home support.”

Defender Karun Gurung said that they were happy with the win. “But we’ll not be carried away with the victory today, we won today, we want to win the next match as well,” he added.

Karun Gurung said that home advantage should increase Bhutan’s chances of winning the next match.

Team Bhutan will be entering the second leg of the qualifiers with a huge advantage as it will be a home match for them. The match is scheduled to kick off on March 17 at the Changlimithang stadium.

Bhutanese national team coach, Chokey Nima said that the win was very crucial for the team not only to gain confidence on a grand stage but also to prove the critics wrong about the team. “Being ranked the last in the world does not mean that we are the worst in the world,” he said.

He added that the win was possible because of the sheer determination and hard work  of the boys. He added that the Sri Lankan players were very confident about winning this game and their confidence further increased their will to win the match.

“This was a historic win for every one of us. This will help us take football to a whole new level,” Coach Nima said.

Many Bhutanese medical students in Sri Lanka attended the match to cheer for their team.

Many Bhutanese at home were also able to watch the match on the internet and voice their support on social media.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, towards the end of a lengthy meeting in Paro, also congratulated the Bhutanese team when news of the victory was received.

By Younten Tshedup