…after winning the district league in Thimphu  

Thinley Namgay  

Druk Lhayul FC defeated Phuensum FC in a penalty shootout to claim the 2021 Thimphu District League title at the Changlimithang Stadium yesterday.

In an equally contested final, both the teams scored two goals each in the regular 90-minute game. The entry into the 2021 Bhutan Premier League (BPL) qualifiers now depended on a penalty shootout.

Debutant Druk Lhayul rose to occasion to humble the hopeful and skilled Phuensum FC 4-3 during the shootout. This was the first win for Druk Lhayul since its inception in 2020.

Druk Lhayul’s striker Dorji headed in the first goal of the match in the 23rd minute giving his team an early lead. However, Phuensum’s Kelzang Penjor equalised in 10 minutes later. In a seesaw battle, Lhayul took the lead just before the end of the first half from Kelzang Jamtsho’s shot.

The game became more thrilling when the Phuensum’s Tenzin Jamtsho scored in the 63rd minute to equalise for his team. The pressure intensified. Both the teams struggled to score thereafter and the game finally went into a penalty shootout.

Meanwhile, during the first semi-finals on April 27, Phuensum defeated Dzongree FC by a lone goal from the spot. On the same day, Druk Lhayul thrashed FC Takin by four goals to nil to grab the spot in the final.

As the champions of the district league, Druk Lhayul will now compete in 2021 BPL qualifiers with 11 other teams. The qualifier is expected to begin on May 15.

Druk Lhayul had a brilliant season — of the seven games played, the club won five, drew two and scored 38 goals.

Druk Lhayul’s coach, Yeshi Wangda, said that the club performed beyond his expectation despite the limited practice they have had. “It’s all because of our hard work. All other teams have been challenging for us but my players delivered according to our plan,” he said. “I am positive about the upcoming BPL qualifiers. We are confident and we aim to qualify for the BPL championship.”

The Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) awarded Druk Lhayul with Nu 100,000 and a trophy. Phuensum received Nu 50,000 and a trophy.

In the meantime, Gomo FC won the district league in Punakha. The leagues in Paro, Sarpang, and Gelephu are ongoing. The Dzongkhag Covid-19 task force in Chukha did not allow the league due to the pandemic.

In Thimphu 11 teams participated in the league that began on April 10.

BFF’s Media and Marketing officer, Phuntsho Wangdi, said that all dzongkhags would get an opportunity to participate in the district league depending on the quality of football in that particular dzongkhag.

He said that depending on grassroots development, distance and infrastructure, BFF prioritised the district league opportunity in Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Sarpang, Gelephu, and Chukha.