’World’s worst’ Bhutan enjoys dream World Cup debut

Updated 12 March 2015
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’World’s worst’ Bhutan enjoys dream World Cup debut

COLOMBO: The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the lowest-ranked team in international football, enjoyed a dream debut in the World Cup qualifiers Thursday by recording a shock 1-0 away victory over Sri Lanka.
Tshering Dorji scored the only goal in the 81st minute at Colombo’s Sugathadasa stadium, stunning the vast majority of the 3,500-strong crowd who had been expecting the hosts to swat aside the visitors.
The winner came as Bhutan launched a counter attack after a sustained period of Sri Lankan pressure, with the skipper Karma Shedrup Tshering passing to Dorji who slotted home calmly from inside the penalty box.
Ahead of the match, Sri Lanka were ranked 174 in FIFA’s world rankings while Bhutan had the dubious honor of propping up the 209 league of nations table after only ever winning three matches in their history.
But Bhutan, who normally play against a backdrop of snowy Himalayan peaks, reaped the benefits of acclimatising in the build-up at a training camp in Thailand and coped well with the humid conditions.
“We tried hard to acclimatize to the conditions here. We didn’t allow humidity to become a problem,” a delighted Bhutan coach Chokey Nima said after what was the country’s first ever appearance in the World Cup.
“We will celebrate today, but we are also preparing for the next challenge.”
The two teams meet again when Sri Lanka travel to Bhutan’s capital Thimpu for a return match on March 17.
Bhutan has been a member of FIFA only since 2000 and a lack of funding had prevented it from taking part in previous World Cup qualification tournaments.
Thursday’s match was one a group featuring the 12 lowest-ranked teams in the Asian confederation who were kicking off the marathon contest for the right to take part in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.


Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

Updated 17 min 6 sec ago
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Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

  • The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup
  • The Wakeboard World Cup will also take place at NEOM during the weekend

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s mega city NEOM is hosting an international beach soccer tournament from July 17 to 20 on the lush white beaches of the Red Sea coast.

Running alongside the tournament will also be the 50th Wakeboard World Cup, rugby and tennis in the Gayal region in NEOM.

The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup.

Countries including China and England will compete against Arab teams from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt in a purpose-built venue, according to a tweet on the official NEOM Twitter page.

This will be the second time a sports event has been held, the first being an extreme adventure sports tournament in April.

The official logo

“The reason we chose extreme adventure sports at the first event in NEOM was because it’s a beautiful environment,” said Jason Harborow, head of NEOM’s future of sport sector.

“Sport is right at the center of what we want to achieve at NEOM, and that means sport for all: male, female, children and athletes with disabilities. NEOM will be for everybody.”

NEOM is being marketed as a tourist destination designed to attract dreamers and elite minds from around the world.

The aim of the mega project is to attract new business and work as an incubator of future technologies, while also acting as a major economic power and a leading center for global investment.

”The team looks forward to the day when NEOM will host a wide range of bold sports to become a world center for sport enthusiasts, thrill seekers and an international sports center that embraces the world’s most important championships in all areas,” said Jason Harborow, head of future sports at NEOM.

The tournament is part of the ongoing effort to promote the sport sector in NEOM and business that comes with it, including encouraging major sporting events to the region.