…an increase of three teams from last year

Thinley Namgay

Happy FC thrashed Chamgang FC 11-1 in the ongoing 2020 Bhutan Open Veteran Football Championship at the Changlimithang Stadium on November 16. In the second game, Noble Leaf FC defeated Zhib Zhib FC 8-1.

Sonam Tshering of Happy FC scored a double hat-trick followed by Karma T Dorji and Tshering Gyeltshen with a double brace and one goal respectively. Chamgang FC could pull back a consolation goal through Ugyen in the dying minutes of the game.

Noble Leaf FC celebrated an early lead from Dawa Sonam’s goal in 18th minute. Jangchuk Dorji scored the second in 38th minute. The second half of the game saw total domination by the Noble Leaf FC with the team scoring six more at the end of the 90 minutes.

There are 19 teams from Paro and Thimphu competing in the championship, which started on October 29 in Thimphu.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, games are being held at Changlimithang Stadium alone, following health protocols with no spectators except for players and officials.

According to the organisers, Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), the tournament intends to encourage senior citizens to take part in the sport and help keep them physically fit and also reduce the risk of various lifestyle diseases.

Most of the players are above 40 years. However, the organisers have also allowed each team to have four players between 35 and 39 years.

The veteran tournament this year, like in the past, have seen significant goal difference between teams.  BoB FC defeated RIM FC 11 – 3 on November 14 and Highlanders FC thrashed Chamgang FC 15 – 0 on November 13. In the opening game on October 29, defending champions Zimdra FC thrashed Edulink FC 9 – 1.

As of yesterday, Zimdra FC (pool A), Noble Leaf FC (pool B) and Highlanders FC (pool C) are leading the group stage with nine points each from three games.

Highlander FC’s Yeshi Samdrup said that his team’s performance has been promising so far. “I’m glad that we won three consecutive games. Our team consists of football enthusiasts within friends. We’ve been participating in this tournament every year since its inception.”

A total of 59 matches will be played during the tournament. The final is on December 6.