African players generate excitement in the King’s Cup
Namgay Zam, ThimphuAug 7 2013
Fans love him. He has speed, agility and skills to beat any good defender. Dodoz from the Three Star Football Club in Nepal is, undoubtedly, everyone’s favourite African player in the King’s Cup. He is one of the 10 African players in the tournament.
It is probably the first time that many Bhutanese have seen African footballers on local television. The African presence in the King’s Cup has only helped generate tremendous excitement around the tournament, especially, due to the positive stereotyping of African footballers aided by the huge popularity of the Barclay’s Premier League in the country.
All three teams from Nepal and a team from Bangladesh have had Africans play for them. Bhutan’s Thimphu City had a Ghanian, and Yeedzin FC also had a Nigerian midfielder by their third match. All of them are Nigeria except for Three Star’s Dodoz from Ivory Coast and Thimphu City’s Kenneth from Ghana.
While Kenneth made no appearance after the last few minutes of Thimphu City’s first game, Three Star’s Dodoz on the other hand has become the local African Football Star.
It is no surprise that Dodoz is a crowd favourite having scored three goals in two games, and being an impressive forward even in the other two. The striker reacts to having a fan following in Bhutan: “I am happy to be in the King’s Cup because we are playing for the Kings….so it is a great time for me,” says Dodoz, adding that many people in the street also recognises him. “They call out ‘Dodoz Dodoz’…I want to win the King’s Cup and take it to Nepal for my team and to make all my fans proud.”
Fans also enjoy the pairing of Dodoz with his teammate and defender Peter. It was noticed through the matches that all teams with a pair of African players had one play as a striker and one as defense. The pairing has been most successful in Three Star as fans have noticed.
“I like Bhutan,” says Peter. “If the Bhutanese league could allow African players to come like in Nepal then the Bhutanese league could improve. I will come here and play if Bhutan allows.”
Meanwhile, the Three Star Coach, Anjan K.C shares that his African pair have been instrumental in Three Star’s success. “We are lucky that we have two African players. They have done a very good job. They are the AK 47 of our team,” he adds.
The Managers of Manang and Yeedzin who are through to the semi-finals also say they believe that their African players can deliver. “They are good players and they make a difference,” says the Assistant Coach of Manang FC, Hemant Ale.
The Manager of Yeedzin FC, Jigme N. Norbu, agrees: “Stanley played pretty well in his first game. If we bring in quality players, it definitely makes a difference.”
United Sikkim is the only team without African footballers in the semi-finals. Should Sikkim be worried? One can only wait and watch- while hoping that the best team wins.
In the first semi-final on Thursday Manang will take on United Sikkim and in the second semi-final the next day, it will be between Three Star and Yeedzin.
The final is slated for Sunday.