Bhutan stun Bangladesh 1-0; 10-man Sri Lanka hold MaldivesWinning captain Chencho Gyeltshen urges Nepali supporters also to cheer on Bhutan who play hosts Nepal on Tuesday.
Underdogs Bhutan recorded their first victory over Bangladesh in the South Asian Games, earning all three points with a 1-0 scoreline in the men's football competition which kicked off at the Dashrath Stadium on Monday.
Incidentally, it was the first international match played at the stadium since the devastating earthquakes in 2015.
Bhutan captain Chencho Gyeltshen scored the solitary goal of the match in the 65th minute.
“We are delighted to have scored three points against a strong Bangladesh side,” Nepali-speaking Gyeltshen reacted to the result after the match.
Bhutan looked tentative at the start but settled as the match wore on and created several chances on either half.
“The first ten minutes were difficult for us, but our boys gradually adapted to the conditions. The team played very well today,” team’s head coach Pema Dorji said.
Bhutan will face the biggest test of their character when they play Nepal on Tuesday. The fact that they are playing Nepal after less than a day’s rest might cause them trouble. The match kicks off at 1pm.
“Playing against the home side will be very tough. However, we would be very glad if the home fans also cheer for us,” Gyeltshen said.
Bangladesh had won both the friendlies against Bhutan: 4-1 on September 29 and 2-0 three days later.
But having flown into cooler climes of Kathmandu shortly after the end of their league season with hardly a week to train together, the Bangladeshis struggled in the match. And they paid the price against Bhutan who were sharper on the day.
Disappointment was visible on the face of Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day. “It was our worst performance since I took charge. The boys will now have to look in the mirror and make a strong comeback in the tournament.”
In the day’s second match, the Maldives were held to a goalless draw by 10-men Sri Lanka. Despite creating several chances, Maldives failed to make them count.
Sri Lanka were reduced to 10 men nine minutes from time after midfielder Sundararaj Niresh was sent off following his second bookable offence. But the Maldives failed to exploit their numerical advantage.
“Despite dominating proceedings, we failed to convert chances,” said Maldives head-coach Peter Segrt. “First match of the tournament is difficult for all participating nations.”
Segrt added, “Having seen Bhutan beat Bangladesh, we cannot underestimate any side. Anyone can beat anyone.”
But Sri Lanka’s head coach NM Packeerali is content with the result. “A draw against the Maldives is a good result considering that we played the last 10 minutes with 10 men.”
“But there is still room for improvement. We will try to play more enterprising football as the tournament progresses,” said Packeerali.