The match between United Sikkim (in blue jersey) and Vasco SC in Gangtok on Monday. Picture by Prabin Khaling
Gangtok, April 2: All-out support from the home crowd consisting of vuvuzela-blowing students and state government employees armed with a special leave could not help United Sikkim find the back of the net in an I-League second division soccer match here today.
The club co-owned by Bhaichung Bhutia had to content itself with a goalless draw against Vasco SC.
The Sikkim club has 14 points from eight matches and trails Royal Wahingdoh of Shillong which is in the first position with 16 points.
Although United Sikkim dominated the match against Vasco SC, it was denied a victory by dogged defence and wonderful goal keeping by the Goan team. Bhaichung played for the last 15 minutes, but couldn’t convert a couple of opportunities into goals.
The students and the government employees were seen carrying banners and placards cheering for the home team throughout the match at Paljor Stadium. The government staff in Gangtok have been allowed to take half-day leaves on days when United Sikkim play in the tournament.
Although United Sikkim’s first match was on Friday against Royal Wahingdoh, a government circular allowing half-day leave for employees to watch the home team in action was issued the next day. All that an employee has to do to get the leave is to produce the match ticket. The next matches of United Sikkim will be on April 4, 11, 13 and 17.
The Sikkim Football Association, which is organising the I-League second division matches in Gangtok, has appreciated the government’s decision to grant leave.
“Such proactive decisions by the government will go a long way in the development of football in Sikkim. Now the SFA calls upon all football loving government employees to take advantage of the circular and come down to Paljor Stadium to cheer for the team,” said SFA general secretary Menla Ethenpa.
The students blew vuvuzelas whenever the home team made a breakthrough in the match.
The plastic horns were distributed among the children by the alumni association of Bhaichung’s alma mater, Tashi Namgyal Academy.
The employees were today seen booking their seats for the upcoming matches of United Sikkim. “I am a die hard football fan, missed few matches because of office work. But I can enjoy the next matches of United Sikkim,” said Anil Chettri, who works in the power department.
Bhaichung’s boys had emerged the tabletopper in the Siliguri leg of the second division with 13 points. But Royal Wahingdoh overtook the Sikkim club by winning all the two matches it had played in Gangtok.
The other team Royal Wahingdoh defeated here was Aizwal FC. The Shillong club was in the fourth position in the Siliguri leg with 10 points. Two teams which score the highest points will make it to senior division of the I-League.