… after a good track record at Al-Ittihad FC

Thinley Namgay 

Before competing in the recent AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers in Jordan, the head coach, officials and teammates were confident that striker and captain, Deki Lhazom might make some difference in the tournament.   

Having played at the Al-Ittihad FC in Saudi Arabia since October last year, and as an experienced player, Deki Lhazom lived up to their expectation.   

 Deki Lhazom,18, represented Bhutan well in the Asian Cup Qualifiers. The tournament was the maiden participation for the country.

 Deki scored five goals at the Qualifiers, four against Mongolia and another against Lebanon.  

Her skills, stamina, humble nature, and team-building ability played a crucial role. “I was glad to be the first woman from Bhutan to score a haul in an international match,” Deki said. 

Deki said the girls gained experience and exposure by participating in the AFC tournament. “Our first match against Lebanon wasn’t that good as we couldn’t adapt to the weather there. In the second match against Jordan, we fought till the final whistle although we lost 1-0.”

Deki said the girls played improved games compared to the SAFF championship in Bangladesh. 

Deki also represented Al-Ittihad FC in Saudi Arabia with good performance. She was instrumental for the Al-Ittihad FC. She scored five goals in 12 games, assisted eight and created several chances.   

Deki Lhazom said: “Playing in Saudi Arabia made me lead my team and professionally encourage them. Through my experience, I taught game tactics to my teammates. Featuring in Saudi Arabia helped me to be an experienced player and face opponents that have been trained professionally.”

 She said that she saw a vast difference in terms of football development, training and facilities in Bhutan and her former club. “Every club abroad is equally good.”  

“I will never forget my journey in Saudi Arabia. I am glad that I could grab the opportunity. I want to continue my football career,” she said.  

Deki said it was not easy to be in another country in the beginning. It took time for her to settle without friends and relatives. “I missed home and friends.”    

 Adapting to culture and diet was challenging, according to Deki. The language barrier was another issue. “It was challenging to self-motivate whenever I had a bad day at matches and training.” 

Over a few months, Deki could make friends and she said they were all helpful to her. “At last, it started feeling like home there.” 

Deki said she understands what it means to be a professional footballer after playing in Saudi Arabia. “I learned new skills and improved what I was lacking.”