Rookie Thimphu FC will take on stalwart Thimphu City FC in opening game

Football: Seven football clubs, most of them laden with international and national players, will fight for a spot in the national league with the Yanmar Thimphu Premier League kicking off this evening at the Changlimithang stadium.

The first game of the tournament will see debutant Thimphu FC play against Thimphu City FC.  With eight national players in the squad, Thimphu City FC looks to be the strongest team in the league.  The owner of the team, Hishey Tshering, said that having national players in the team was always an advantage. “We’re strong in the midfield and defense but weak in the front,” he said. “But that’s not going to stop us from delivering our best.”

Thimphu FC owner, Yiwang Pindarica, said that competing for the first time in the tournament was a big pressure. “City is a very strong team and much experienced than us, but we’re ready for the big debut,” she said.  With two international and four national players, Thimphu FC is daring to give the big teams a tough fight and a run for their money.

Defending champion, Druk United, looks a different side this year.  With most of the top players leaving the club, head coach, Ashok Kumar Burja, is not looking beyond second or third position.  Druk United has hired four Indian players for the tournament.  Druk United takes on Drukstar FC on April 4 at the Changlimithang stadium.

Two time champions, Drukstar FC, has brought in two Nigerian players, but three of the national team in the squad are injured.  Coach Kota Namgay is however confident that other players will put up a good fight. “We just want to play a good game and try getting into the top four, if possible,” he said.

Drukstar will play FC Tertons on April 6.

FC Tertons has also hired an Indian all-round player and plans to play an attacking game.  Manager Tshering Phuntsho is very confident with his players and thinks that his team will lift the trophy this year. “All the players are physically fit and mentally prepared,” he said. “People can expect a skilful game from our team.”

Dzongrig FC is the only team without a national or international player, but this does not deter the winning spirit of the player-manager, Mindu CC Dorji.  He said the players are ready to take on any opponent in the tournament. “Our players are young, but they have talent,” he said.

Drukpol FC, meanwhile, is the only club comprising all military personnel.  The manager of the team, Tshering Chophel said that the squad’s goal is to qualify for the national league.  Drukpol will face Thimphu FC in their first match on April 8 at Changlimithang stadium.

The two-month long tournament will see a total of 42 games, made up of home and away matches.  Each club will play 12 games and, at the end on May 31, the club with the highest points in the table will be declared the winners of the league.  Also the first four clubs in the table will qualify for the national league championships.

The prize money for the tournament this year has increased by 300 percent.  A Japanese diesel engine manufacturing company, Yanmar, which sponsors football teams like Manchester United of the United Kingdom and Borussia Dortmund of Germany is sponsoring the prizes.

By Younten Tshedup