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Dramatic comeback falls short in 7- goal thriller

Football: The Bhutan Football Federation (BBF) had sacked head coach Norio Tsukitate after falling out with team manager Hishey Tshering during the match against Maldives yesterday.

BFF’s General Secretary Ugyen Wangchuk confirmed the sacking late last night. However, he couldn’t confirm if an official letter was written to the Japan Football Association on the coach’s premature end to his term. Ugyen Wangchuk said the match commissioner at the game yesterday, a member of the Japan Football Association, also suggested sending the coach back to Japan. Coach Norio Tsukitate has vacated the hotel, Ariya hotel in Olakha, where the national team is staying.

In his post match press conference, manager Hishey Tshering said that after an argument between him and the coach, the coach refused to take charge of the game. “There was some imbalance within the team in the first half, players were put in unfamiliar positions and made to play,” the manager said.

“I suggested the coach to change the game plan for the next half. He didn’t respond.”

Coach Norio Tsukitate was not present at the press conference and had left the pitch immediately after the game.

Coach Norio steps back

Coach Norio steps back

Hishey Tshering said that all the players wanted to talk to the coach on the unfamiliar positions they were made to play. But since none came forward, he took the responsibility as the manager to talk to the coach. “I felt that we could still repair the damage if we could sort those things out,” he said.

Whether it was tired opponents or better positioning of players, Bhutan scored three goals after the change in command.

“I hate to believe this, that the coach had set up the team to lose, it’s very unfortunate,” said Hishey Tshering. “Under him we conceded 28 goals plus three today. The moment he left we scored three goals.”

Bhutan nearly completed a dramatic comeback when they scored three goals in seven minutes after trailing 4-0 against Maldives. Midfielder Tshering Dorji, striker Chencho Gyeltshen and winger Biren Basnet scored for Bhutan.

The Red Snappers dominated the first half, out pacing the Bhutanese on their home ground. With an early goal in the 11th minute, Maldives controlled the next 30 minutes with their speed.

Two more goals were scored within the next 20 minutes by the Maldivian skipper Ashfaq.

Hishey Tshering credited the team for their ‘never giving up spirit’ throughout the tournament. He said that when Bhutan qualified for the second round of the World Cup qualifiers, there was a huge expectation of the team.

“We knew we are not going to win many games in this round, but the question was how we manage the margin of defeat,” he said.

He added that although the team lost the game, what came out of it was the ‘never giving up spirit’ of the team.

Bhutan has now lost four games in a row. Bhutan will host Hong Kong on October 13 at Changlimithang.

 Younten Tshedup

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