It was repayment time for Ugyen Academy (UA) FC, as the team from Punakha defeated the two time national champions, Transport United FC 3-0 in the finals of the inaugural Samtse Championship on January 26.

Prior to the Samtse Championship finals, the two teams have met four times in a final. Transport United had won all the four.

Both the teams entered the finals undefeated this time.

UAFC’s strategy to attack early in the match paid off when striker Chhuma Dorji Lepcha found the back of the net through a displaced United goalie in the 15th minute.

In a one-on-one situation, UAFC’s Yeshi Dorji sidestepped United’s Hari Gurung and finished it to double their lead 15 minutes later.

United’s efforts to bring down the deficit went futile despite numerous attempts they had on the target. In the additional time of the first half, Chhuma Dorji Lepcha, who was named the man of the match scored his second giving UAFC a comfortable cushion going into the second half.

The score line remained unchanged at the final whistle.

UAFC’s coach, Kinley Dorji, said that their strategy proved effective since most of United’s key players were out with injuries. “Our plan was to take the advantage of the missing players in the first half. We wanted to score, and score early.”

The coach said that unlike in the past games, his players were mentally and physically prepared for the game. “We studied United’s game against Paro FC and we build our strategies from that game,” he said. “I was expecting to win the championship this time.”

Transport United FC officials were not available for comment. However, in a statement from the club on their Facebook page, coach Nawang Dendup, said, “We admit that we didn’t play well. We have to work to improve and correct our mistakes. It was a tough loss, we didn’t expect it.”

The first edition of the championship saw a total of nine teams, five from Bhutan and four from West Bengal, India take part in the 20-day tournament in Samtse.

Organised by the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) to enhance the standard of football in the country, the tournament was also conducted to provide more game time for the local clubs.

BFF’s media spokesperson, Phuntsho Wangdi, said the championship was organised to generate interest among locals and also help in developing a larger pool of players for the national squad selection.

He said that the championship would be an annual event. However, he said that the organisation of the tournament would be taken up by the dzongkhag sports associations (DSA) from the next edition.

“BFF would provide the budget and all the required technical assistance to the DSA,” he added.

Younten Tshedup  | Trashigang