Football: Yesterday, at 3pm, a history of a sort was made at Changlimithang National Stadium in Thimphu.
As the Titans met, there were just about a handful of spectators, a lot less jeers and taunts. The retired national players, most of whom have been out of touch with the game for many years, faced the new and rising stars of the Bhutanese football.
The old heroes (Legends) put up a tough fight indeed. As the final whistle went off, it was Legends 4 and the young stars (Bhutan) 5.
Sixty-five-year-old Nado played for Bhutan from 1973 to 1989. He is still commendably fit.
The friendly match was organised by the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) to open the Thimphu League.
It was a slow game in the beginning but picked the pace soon after. The Legends clearly needed some time to get used to astroturf. The young had the speed and agility; the old patience and wisdom of the game.
The first goal came from Bhutan 20 minutes into the game. Two more goals followed. And it was half time.
The Legends came back with renewed strength and energy. Ten minutes into the second half, they had their first goal. This was swiftly followed with another one. The stadium thundered with cheers.
It was a special game. It didn’t matter who won or lost.
“What mattered was the playing spirit that was still evident in our senior players,” said Dorji Khandu, a spectator. “I had heard some of the names in the game but hadn’t really seen them play. I’m happy that I got to see them play today.”
Back in the locker room, Dinesh Chhetri, the-once-popular figure in the Bhutanese football, was expressed happiness. One could see it in his eyes. Signing their jerseys, the senior players congratulated the young players for good performance.
“As expected, it was a difficult game. But it was a fun experience,” said that former national player. “We’re thankful to the federation for allowing us to taste our passion once more.”
Some 35-40 ex-national players had gathered for the match. Everyone got the opportunity be part of the “historic” match.
After the friendly game, in the opening match of the Thimphu League, Thimphu FC defeated Druk United FC by a lone goal.
A total of eight teams are taking part in this years Thimphu league.