The on-going Thimphu League has been halted for almost a month now with some of the players from the nine participating clubs engaged with national team duty.

The league, which began on February 4, was paused after a month from March 5 to train the national squad for the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in the UAE.

Officials from the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) said that the Thimphu League fixture and decision to take the month-long international break was discussed with all nine club managers prior to the commencement of the league.

The national head coach wanted at least 25 days to train the national team before the international games. This became on of the reasons for extending the Thimphu League this year by almost six months. “The decision was finalised based on the approval from all the team managers,” said an official.

However, some of the clubs are unhappy with the month-long break and said that the league should continue irrespective of international games.

Thimphu FC manager, Yiwang Pindarica, said that the league should have continued even with some of the national players from each club away on national duty.

“It would be really good if there was a rule or regulation regarding the registration of only a certain number of national team players in a club,” said Yiwang Pindarica.

Of the nine clubs competing in league, defending champions, Thimphu City FC has 11 national players on the team, the highest in the league. However, with the 11 players out for national duty, City still has 13 players (one injured) back in the country.

City general secretary said: “As far as we are concerned, all the team managers were called for a meeting prior to the fixture. It was jointly decided that we will have our league early and take a long break. So we have no complain and comments.”

Internationally the break differs with leagues. Usually the European leagues get around seven to 10 days off as international break, while the I-League (Indian League) recently had a three-week break.

The current league leaders, Transport United FC are in support of the long break. United’s general secretary, Yeshey Samdrup, said that since the decision for the break was taken after consulting with all the managers, the club has no issues.

Transport United FC has seven of its players on the national squad. “If the rule demands us to continue with the league, we would comply even if we have to forgo our key players. We go by the rule,” said Yeshey Samdrup.

Thimphu FC has four of its players on the national team.

Meanwhile, the national team will take on Oman tomorrow at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat at 9pm BST.

Younten Tshedup