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Football in Bhutan - Open League

Thimphu Open League

Highlanders beat 8 Eleven 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out to win the Thimphu open league after an entertaining2-2 draw yesterday at Motithang HSS ground."Lady Luck was with us. This is the third consecutive penalty shoot-out we won," said Highlanders skipper Sonam Pelden.

"They were the better team and luck isn't with us this time," said 8 Eleven captain Tenzin Wangchuk.The shoot-out was their fourth in a row

Both teams rode an amazing streak of luck since the pre-quarters as they scraped through one game after another in penalty shoot-outs to the final.

Highlanders started brightly, and nearly took the lead in the opening minute, as adefence-splitting pass found winger Choda one on one with the goalkeeper,only to squander the glorious chance by hitting straight at the goalie from point blank range.

Despite Highlanders' mounting pressure, it was 8 Eleven, who took the lead in the 22nd minute, when striker Kezang Phuntsho outran his marker to hit the ball in the bottom right corner.

8 Eleven's lead didn't last long, as they were at the receiving end, after an own goal by defender Kuenzang, as he fumbled while trying to clear the ball during a nervy tussle in the goal area.But they restored their lead in the 38th through Pelden Choda's cheeky goal scored with his knee.

Just after the break, Namgay Wangchuk poached Highlanders' equaliser, with a simple tap in after a blistering shot by winger Choda proved too hot to handle for the 8 Eleven keeper.

8 Eleven forwards, who enjoyed running at Highlanders defence, were gifted many chances but they failed to capitalise.

The game ended 2-2.

Keeper Sonam Tobgay, who has been Highlanders' saviour stopped two-consecutive penalties to give his team the edge.Highlanders Choda converted after Dophu's shot was saved by 8 Eleven keeper Tenzin Wangchuk.The edge was cancelled out, when Sonam Pelden shot wide, after Zimba got it right for 8 Eleven.

Both keepers made a save each, but could do nothing in the next four penalties.

Goalkeeper Sonam Tobgay converted the winning penalty, sending his teammates and supporters into a wild frenzy, as they cried out screams of victory after 8 Eleven's Pelden Chojure hit straight at the keeper.

The champions Highlanders won Nu 35,000 while runners-up 8 Eleven collected Nu 25,000 and a trophy each.

Binod Tamang won a mountain bike, sponsored by Wilderness Travel, while Charo FC won the team fair play award.Pelpen Wangchuk was adjudged the best manager, and Passang won the best official award.

Source : Karma Pelden , KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, December 2011

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