Thinley Namgay   

Paro FC bowed out of the 2022 AFC Cup qualifiers after losing 1-2 against the Maldives’ Club Valencia at the Maldives National Football Stadium on April 5.

However, Paro FC staged a strong performance against the host.

AFC preliminary matches used to be played in a double leg format in the past seasons. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only a game was allowed to decide the winner.

This means that Club Valencia will play against Bangladesh’s club Abahani Ltd Dhaka without having to come to Bhutan for an away face off.

The match was played at 11pm (BST) in the cool weather.

Paro FC had hired three international players from Cameroon despite having a number of players from the national team.

Club Valencia’s Abdulla Yaameen scored the first goal in the 18th minute. The lead was short-lived, as Paro’s Maxwell Ellon found the equaliser nine minutes later.

As both sides failed to break the deadlock in regulation time, the match entered into the extra time of 30 minutes to decide the winner.

There were only 19 minutes of the added time remaining for the match to go into a penalty shoot-out when the host team’s Borja Martin scored the decider.

Paro FC’s head coach, Puspalal Sharma, said: “It was a stellar performance by our boys. Had we been clinical in the box, we could have closed the game in the second half.”

“Despite dominating the ball possession and creating chances, we had to bow out of the AFC Cup,” Puspalal Sharma said.

Striker Yeshi Dorji said the team’s primary strategy was to produce counter-attacks. “We executed as per the plan.”

He said that the hosts got lucky. “We missed a lot of goal-scoring opportunities.”

Paro FC landed in New Delhi yesterday. They will return home today.