League leaders Transport United awaits us in another midweek match at Changlimithang. They are the only team with 100% record this season so far.
With both teams flying high in the table and both sets of fans confident of a win, the clash is anticipated to be one of the best. “If people were allowed inside then this would always have the biggest attendance.” said Ngawang Dhendup. “This is a proper derby. Like true rivals.”. The fixture would normally see fans cheering for their teams while criticizing the officials and opponents They have always had a significant impact on the outcome of the match. Unfortunately, with the larger struggle against the epidemic still going on, fans will have to watch the game online. They will be dearly missed.
But the show must go on and both the teams will be looking for nothing less than three points. For Ngawang’s boys, the win would give them the control over the league. “Right now the ball is in their court. They have the advantage.” He understands that his team must do everything possible to stop Transport United. But it is not an easy challenge. “They have a balanced team, have strong discipline and they don’t make much mistake.”
Transport United have secured all fifteen points available, recording 22 goals along the way. Their lethal reputation was illustrated when they marched over last season’s runners-up, Ugyen Academy, six goals to nothing. Former reds Tsenda Dorji is second on the goal scoring chart with six so far. He is followed by another fellow Transport United player Kinga Wangchuk with five. While they have not been short on goals up front, they have locked down their defence at the back, allowing only three goals this season, the second fewest in the league.
As if the match itself wasn’t challenging enough, City has been plagued by injuries. While some players have returned, they are unlikely to be in peak condition. “Our first choices are mostly injured. Those who have comeback are not 100% fit”. City will be without its firepower in Kencho Tobgay and sensational winger Kinga Rabgay, who were both injured during our game against Tensung. Kencho had fractured his collar bone when he collided with Tensung’s captain in the closing minutes. Kinga has torn his hamstring and is feared to be sidelined at least for few weeks. Nima Tshering has not received the green signal from physio for the upcoming clash.
One Clear Winner
The two sides have faced each other fourteen times in domestic competitions since Thimphu City FC’s establishment, twelve times since Transport’s return to the top flight. Since 2012, there have been 39 goals, three stalemates, and seven titles split between the two. Except in 2019, domestic league titles from 2016 till 2020 was either won by Thimphu City or Transport United . But there is one obvious winner in this battle. With seven wins and three draws in 12 outings, and four titles (1 Thimphu League, 2 National League, 1 Premier League) in four years, Ngawang Dhendup surely has a good understanding of this matchup. When thimcityfc.com presented this statistics to the man himself, he burst out laughing. “This is interesting. I never realized it to be honest.” His five wins came against City for Transport between 2017 to 2019. But in his first year as City’s head coach, he did a double against his former side in 2020. This will be his thirteenth meet as a head coach of either side.