After its relegation from the national league in 2011, Transport United made history in the national football winning the fifth national title seven years on when it lifted the BoB national league title recently.
The club is the only team to win the title for the fifth time.
The club’s return to the winning ways began in the Thimphu League 2016. However, the defending champions, Thimphu City’s thirst for the title pushed Transport United to the second place.
Winning the second place in Thimphu league was enough for Transport United as it then qualified to play in the national league, marking the return of championships’ favourite team.
Besides the five titles, the club boasts of four AFC cup appearances. The club would make the fifth appearance in the AFC Cup next year.
Transport United was a dominant club in the early 2000s; the club has the record of four straight wins in the national league after their first title in 2004.
However, their race to win the fifth national title was stopped by Yeedzin FC in 2008. Failing to recover from the defeat then on, the team was relegated from the national league in 2011.
The clubs’ coach, Ngawang Dhendup, led the team throughout their journey to win the championship title.
He had been a critical factor in the club from being the captain of the team while playing in the B-division to coaching the club in Thimphu league and the national league. The club’s achievement as champions is a result of his effort in training the squad.
He said that it is difficult for any team to win the championship without losing a single game. “I am extremely happy that we are undefeated in the league. The players gave hundred percent to achieve this incredible win.”
He also said that the championship was not a perfect performance and that they made mistakes somewhere along the way but they corrected their mistakes on time.
With the successful season, Transport United has already changed their focus on their AFC Cup appearance next year. The club will be playing AFC group stage matches next year after they last appeared in 2008.
“We don’t have any future plans after this season but we are focused and mentally preparing for the AFC Cup appearance,” said the coach.
The national league win with the Transport United is the second title for Ngawang Dhendup with the club. He won the first one as a player.
Who decided the champions’ return?
The title race between Thimphu City FC and Transport United was almost a repeat of the Thimphu league. And with the national leagues’ favourite team, Ugyen Academy FC, taking part, it became a tight race among the three teams from the beginning.
The tide turned in favour of Transport United when they beat Thimphu City 6-3 in the second leg match at the Changlimithang stadium on August 9.
It was the hat-trick of Transport United’s foreign signing, Nagen Tamang, that placed his side three goals ahead of Thimphu City and on the top of the table.
The 28-year-old striker from West Bengal contributed significantly scoring in the important matches.
“I am happy that we won the title. Among all the moments in the league, that feeling when I scored against Thimphu City was amazing. I hope I will be called back to play for the club again,” Nagen Tamang said.
The next man who played a vital role in deciding the fate of the club this season was the new signing Kencho Tobgay from Drukstar FC.
He scored the opener against the only team who had the potential to change the championship race of Transport United. The win in Punakha decided the league title for them.
Kencho Tobgay said that the reason behind leaving his former team was to fulfill his goal to win the national league. “It’s my third season and I couldn’t win one so far. I am happy with the title finally. I personally contributed in this triumph and it’s the teamwork that made this possible,” he said.
However, the striker remains undecided about where to play in the next edition. “I did not think about where to play in the future. If the team remains same I would love to play with the same club,” he said.
Transport United won the cash prize of Nu 1 million (M) along with the trophy. The first runners-up Thimphu City bagged Nu 0.5M and the second runners Ugyen Academy FC won a cash prize of Nu 0.2M. The league ended on September 30.
However the league ended with the debutant: Phuentsholing City without a single point in this edition.