Thinley Namgay 

Security officials escorted referee Virendha Rai from Changlimithang Stadium after the Druk Lhayul FC players contested his decision not to award them a penalty in the 93rd minute of the game.

Thimphu City FC and Druk Lhayul FC were drawn at 1-1 and the game was about to end.

Both teams are in the title race with Paro FC.

While confronting the referee for his decision, one of the Lhayul players was given a red card after he refused to go away with a yellow card.

Virendha Rai is one of the five Bhutanese referees who has secured a place in an AFC elite referee category so far.

Tension flared from the beginning of the match peppered with a lot of confrontations among players similar to their first leg game in September.

As usual, the spectators used abusive language towards the referee stating that he was unfair.

Yesterday’s game was crucial for both teams as they are the only teams who are in the title race against Paro FC.

Following a highly contested game with timely interceptions from both teams, the first half ended goalless.

The game headed for a draw. However, Lhayul’s Sonam Wangyel scored in the 78th minute. Seven minutes later, City equalised through Kinga Rabgay.

Lhayul challenged the City yesterday. City thrashed Lhayul 5-1 in the first leg in September.

Lhayul’s coach Yan Law said the boys played the game well but the result was unfair. “Referee need to take a bit more initiative.”

He said football is a game of emotions which involves players, fans, and club owners and it is unfair to them when such a thing happens. “Because the league is being decided by someone else and not through honesty.”

“This is not something that we deserve,” Yan Law said, adding that Bhutan has the potential to develop football but certain hurdles need to be addressed.

City’s coach Ngawang Dendup said that his players were a ‘bit down’ after a draw against Lhayul. “We want to motivate them and come stronger. We will keep trying.”

The 2022 BPL is inching to an end. The defending champion Paro FC is leading the tournament with 44 points from 16 games. The club still has two matches in hand.

Paro will play against Lhayul on December 27, and Thimphu City FC on January 5 at Changlimithang Stadium.

City and Lhayul also completed 16 games as of yesterday.  City has 40 points and Lhayul, 38 points.

If Paro wins against Lhayul, Paro will be crowned Champions.  The Cityzens are likely to win against Tensung FC on December 26.