The first qualifying tournament for the Tiger Street Football finals played out on Saturday at a specially constructed caged pitch on Diamond Island, with Western University FC clinching first place and a winner’s cheque for $100 by beating Charlo 2-1 in the final.
Sixty-four teams saw the top 20 grabbing berths to the March 15 finals of the event, which will feature 32 sides playing five-a-side games in a cage at Wat Botum Park.
The final 12 squads will be determined by qualifiers held over the next two weekends, firstly in Siem Reap, then at Sihanoukville.
With matches beginning at 7am on Saturday and lasting late into the evening, players and spectators flocked to the site, in the shadow of Town Hall, with a path into next month’s finals at stake and ultimately an invitation to the grand finals in Guangzhou on October 12 and 13.
Newly formed, Japanese-owned club TriAsia Phnom Penh had two teams making it through to the national round along with Western University, whose senior squad were relegated from the top-tier Metfone C-League last year.
Most match-ups in the later stages of the qualifiers were close affairs, but ties held earlier in the day provided some entertaining viewing, including an 11-8 thriller won by Khmer Super Reds against The Expert and a 12-5 victory for Rithy FC over Social Action Youths.
Qualifiers from Phnom Penh include The One, Down Town, Khmer Super Red, Eleven Star FC, BR FC, Young Star FC, NG Family FC, Nipes FC, Daniel, Rithy FC, W.I.S., Khmer Community FC, Petanque Youth, Western University FC, Charlo, Green Village, S Sport, Chin Su FC, Tri Asia Phnom Penh A and Tri Asia Phnom Penh B.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Derbuc at firstname.lastname@example.org