Return leg on February 12

Thinley Namgay

Bengaluru FC battled Thimphu’s windy afternoon and the overwhelming home crowd to snatch a thin win against Paro FC at the Changlimithang in the first leg of the second round AFC Cup 2020 qualifiers yesterday. 

Paro FC had waited for this moment their entire existence to play with the best. After beating champions from Sri Lanka Defenders FC, the match against the champions of the Indian Super League was, in the words of its coach ‘the best opportunity to learn and progress to next level of professionalism’.

Paro FC had worked hard on its defence strategy and it showed in the results. Defenders FC had equalised all its goals within minutes. Yesterday’s performance was different: they were cohesive, resilient, and connected. 

The enthralling first half also displayed some heated exchanges when Paro FC’s defender Kinley Tenzin unintentionally kicked the ball on defender Harmanjot Singh Khabra, who was on the ground after clashing with midfielder Phub Thinley.  Harmanjot Singh Khabra pushed Kinley Tenzin and the other players joined the melee. The first half ended goalless. 

Fans cheered for striker Chencho Gyeltshen, but his former teammates heavily guarded him and prevented any decent attack on goal.   

Bengaluru FC made it clear they meant business with pace and more accurate passes. It was nothing like the match against Transport United FC in 2018. Bengaluru FC snatched one through their striker and man of the match, Haokip Thongkhosiem in the 53rd minute. 

Not satisfied with their slim lead, Bengaluru FC brought on their goal machine and skipper Sunil Chhetri to replace forward Roshan Singh Naorem. 

Backed by 8,140 home supporters, Paro FC pressed hard to equalise. It was not to be.  

At the post-match conference, Paro FC’s Coach Jangchuk Dorji said that his players had played well. “We will prepare better for the away match.” 

Bengaluru’s Coach, Carles Caudrat said Paro FC has good players. “We are happy with the result. I hope that the away match will be tough too, however, with the home supporters, we are expecting a good result.” 

The second leg is at Bengaluru, India on February 12.