Bangkok Veterans League Season #3, Event #2 — 2nd Annual "Seniors World Cup" 2007 — 23-28/Apr/2007 • Chonburi
Veterans League Stars feature in the 2nd annual Seniors World Cup as
Following our outstanding performance against the world champion Thailand Seniors in Mar/2007, Bangkok Veterans League (fondly renamed as "Team Europe") has been invited by Kh. Thepitak, President of Thailand Senior Footballers Association, to participate in the 2nd annual Seniors World Cup that took place in Chonburi during 23-28/Apr/2007.
After a quick e-mail to Captains, the following volunteers were more than happy to make up the squad: • Ambassadors
- H.E. Sig. Ignazio (Italy) • Veterans League
- Eralp (Turkey+Cyprus) • Anatolian Turks
- Esker (Russia) • British Club
- Peter (England) • Debsirin Grads
- Decha (Thailand)
- Prakasit (Thailand) • Irish Xchange
- Eric (Palestine) • LeCoq French
- Yamine (France)
- Eric (France) • LesGaulois French
- Robert (Belgium)
- Jean-François (France)
- Christophe (France)
- Daviid (France) • NIST Teachers
- Adrian (England) • Scandinavian Vikings
- Svend (Denmark)
- Kristian (Denmark)
- Jesper (Denmark)
- Anders (Denmark) • Sunbelt United
- Keith (England)
- Rocky (Singapore) • Winking Frog
- Paul (England)
- Kew (Iran)
- Steve (Scotland)
- Derek (England)
- Kevin (Scotland)
- Graham (England)
- Joe (England)
We, Bangkok Vets, as Team Europe, were seeded in Group-B and had 3 games in the Group Stage against, first Iran (Apr/23rd), then Taiwan (Apr/24th), and finally Australia (Apr/25th). All of the games of the World Cup were scheduled to play at 6:00 pm in the 2 stadiums in the Chonburi province — namely City Stadium and P.E. Stadium.
The official Opening Ceremony took place on Tuesday (Apr/24th) at 3:30 pm, and that day's Germany -vs- Thailand game, as well as the Grand Final on Saturday (Apr/28th) were televised on Thai TV Channel-11 starting at 4:00 pm.
Below, I have summarized our performance from the 3 group matches that we were fortunate to take part in, plus, Graham's write-up on our performance against Taiwan.
I took the time to go watch the thrilling Grand Final between Germany -vs- Taiwan in Chonburi as well, which ended 1-0 in favour of Germany via a beautifully placed curve-ball 5 min before the end. Stuff of the legends!
You can find plenty of photos from our matches, and the Grand Final as well.
Click on the following links to jump to respective sections:
Steve and I attended the Managers Meeting, and hammered out all the nitty-gritty details on age groups, substitutes, national anthems, etc. There were plenty of arguments and counter-arguments in a healthy debate among the 8 participating Team Managers (much unlike the UN Security Council), and reasonable minds prevailed in the end, and avoided any mushroom clouds.!
Participating teams were:
(4) S. Korea
As representatives of Europe, we also agreed EU flag as our team flag and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as our national anthem. [Click here to listen]
There were plenty of handshakes and photo-ops at the end of the meeting, especially with the beautifully designed Seniors World Cup trophy.
And, let the games begin!
Picture 1 — All the Captains and Managers are hammering out the details of all the rules.
Picture 2 — A nice photo-op with all the Captains and Managers
Picture 3 — Steve and Eralp cornered Kh. Thepitak with a picture with the Seniors World Cup trophy.
Picture 4 — UAE's (1990 World Cup) national squad having their lunch on the first day.
Picture 5 — 2006 Seniors World Cup champions, Thailand, having their lunch on the first day.
Picture 6 — Debutantes and title contenders, Team Europe, having their lunch on the first day.
Group Match #1 — 23/Apr/2007 (Mon)
Iran -vs- Europe
Despite the large numbers, being a "collection" squad from players of the Bangkok Veterans League teams, it was rather difficult for the us to gel together in the beginning.
In a 4-1-4-1 formation, the starting line-up consisted of:
Soon after the kickoff, we found ourselves 1-0 down virtually in Iran's first attack. This was just the beginning of our initiation to world football.!
Iran kept possession during the greater part of the 1st Half mostly because of well controlling the midfield and through their superior passing skills. In addition, their defence was able to read our game very smartly, and totally passifized our left-foot maestro Daviid upfront.
Just before the end of the 1st Half, Iran went 2-0 ahead through a beautifully-curled long-range shot from the left edge of the penalty-box, that went over our defence and Derek, in for a goal.
As Iran got tired, we took some control in the last 10 min of the half and started bringing up the ball faster to Iran's goal. However, all the pressure and attacks did not result in any goals in our favour.
• Half Time ==> Iran 2-0 Europe
In the 2nd Half, we seemed to be able to turn the tide around, and maintained the possession of the ball, attacking Iran's goal in a more organized manner. In one of those attacks, in much reminiscent of Iran's 2nd goal, LeCoq Eric unleashed a vicious shot from the left edge of the box that met the top-corner, despite all the efforts of an in-form Iranian keeper.
Rejuvenated, Team Europe pushed further up into Iran's half; however, the Iranian midfield smarted up a bit, and started passing the ball around effectively again, which left us little chance to get into scoring positions.
• Full Time ==> Iran 2-1 Europe
Throughout the game, Derek the Frog kept out 4-5 crucial shots that kept the score low in our favour!
Overall, a pleasant evening and an enjoyable start to the World Cup, despite the devastating opening loss.
Picture 7 — Team Europe slowly gathering the troops for the first group match.
Picture 8 — Australia -vs- Taiwan game in our group before ours.
Picture 9 — Taiwan (in white) had a formidable team in the tournament.
Picture 10 — Steve is hard at work formulating 1st day's line-up.
Picture 11 — Pre-game pep-talk as Steve is dishing out his final instructions.
Picture 12 — Entire Team Europe posing in one single frame. Standing: Paul, Kevin, Esker, Adrian, Derek (GK), Yamine, Keith, Rocky, Peter, Kew, Decha, Daviid Front: Eralp (M), Svend, Jean-Francois, Steve (C), Eric, Jesper, Kristian, Eric, Prakasit, Christophe
Picture 13 — Iran looking prim-&-proper, ready to take on any opposition.
Picture 14 — Team Europe's substitutes bench full of years of experience.
Picture 15 — And the ceremonies begin.
Picture 16 — Steve leading the team into the battle.
Picture 17 — Pre-game salutes to flags and national anthems.
Picture 18 — Exchanging pleasantries.
Picture 19 — Tough battle in the midfield.
Picture 20 — Joe's doing the math at the half-time.
Picture 21 — Half-time analysis is optimistic.
Picture 22 — Both teams pleasantly congratulating each other at the end of their 1st game in the tournament.
Opening Ceremony — 24/Apr/2007 (Tue)
P.E. Stadium, Chonburi
The formal Tournament Opening Ceremony took place on the 2nd day on 24/Apr/2007, mostly because to showcase the big matchup in Group-A between Germany -vs- Thailand. It was televised live on Thai TV Channel-11.
Our guys who stayed in the beautiful & comfy Tide Resort in Bangsaen during the tournament had the chance to see the Opening Ceremonies as well as the big game in which current World Champions, Thailand, lost to the serious title contenders, Germany, 4-1.
Picture 23 — Scenes from the Opening Ceremony.
Picture 24 — The "World Cup" trophy is being brought in.
Picture 25 — TheWorld Cup trophy is being brought "up".
Picture 26 — The hand-over to the Guest of Honour takes place.
Our 2nd outing in the Seniors World Cup against Taiwan was another tough encounter, perhaps much so than yesterday's Iran game.
The lads from Taiwan were so nimble all over the pitch, we constantly had the "catch up with him" syndrome. Their whole squad was so fit, they were everywhere on the pitch, and more amazingly, each player knew each other player's position blindedly!
Our squad was mostly same as last night, always on the look-out for a chance to knock it in, but the chances were few-&-far in between, in spite of having LesGaulois Daviid and Viking Anders in our front-line.
We started with a more conservative 4-4-2 line-up this time:
Played: Anders, Decha, Christophe, Peter, Kristian, Keith, Graham
Having watched the Taiwanese yesterday against the Australians, we knew we were in for a rough evening. It was a "catch-me-if-you-can" type of chase where we were totally exhausted by the end of the half.
The half ended with a respectable 1-0 score for Taiwan. However, we felt they could shift "another gear up" in the 2nd Half. There were no stopping these lads. They made a 6-lane highway out of our right side, and the left was only a safe-passage air corridor, with balls being distributed masterfully from the midfield to all over the park.
These boys were so fit, I recalled they didn't even want to change the number of substitutions from 6 to "unlimited" during yesterday morning's Managers Meeting, because it didn't fit their arduous practice regime of the last 1 year, compromising to 8 in the end. Now in a game against them, we realized their full intent! The substitutions worked like clockwork, each incoming player picking up the torch that the outgoing left.
• Half Time ==> Taiwan 1-0 Europe
The 2nd Half was much the same traffic when Taiwan got ahead 3-0 in a hurry. In one of those rare moments of brilliance, off of a freekick in front of the box, Anders got in eye contact with Daviid and lobbed the ball over the wall to Daviid who got a half-kick on the ball which came off from the crossbar and fell in front of just-substituted Decha who didn't forgive from close range.
The cap-off of the night was a wonderfully built up attack by the Taiwanese, which stared again from their defensive midfield pass to the right wing, then back to in front of our penalty-box for a 1-2 combination, and their left flanker got the ball and slotted it in from the edge of the 6-yard-box to the right inside net. Masterful..!
• Full Time ==> Taiwan 4-1 Europe
Throughout the game, Steve and Eric stood tall against all the attacks of the Taiwanese, that kept the score low in our favour!
Overall, a pleasant evening and a clinical lesson in football, despite the 2nd loss in-a-row.
Picture 29 — 1st game of the 2nd day in our group, Australia -vs- Iran.
Picture 30 — Kh. Noppadol, the main-man behind all the superb organization.
Picture 31 — Team Europe's 2nd day squad lined up for action.
Picture 32 — Pre-game salutes to flags and national anthems.
Picture 33 — End of game handshakes with Taiwanese maestros.
Picture 34 — 4 Viking musketeers evidencing their presence in the Seniors World Cup — Svend, Anders, Jesper, Kristian.
Group Match #3 — 25/Apr/2007 (Wed)
Australia -vs- Europe
On our last day of the competition, we took the game with a much lighter attitude against the Australians, but still aiming to win it. Our 2 teams had lost our first 2 games in the group in the last 2 days, and this game was for the honour and prestige to claim some points nevertheless.
Following 2 days of battering, Team Europe looked depleted on the bench as well as on the pitch. So, the tactic for us was to keep a strong defence, and string a few passes together in the midfield to put our strikers in scoring positions — simple enough!
We kept our conservative 4-4-2 format from the 2nd night:
Played: Daviid, Keith, Kristian, Robert, Eralp
Following the usual but elaborate beginning ceremonies and national anthems, the game got the kickoff under a cloudy drizzling sky. And, right off the bat, all that pre-game planning and tactics went up in flames, as we allowed the Australians to score the opening goal on their opening attack!
Nevertheless, we didn't lose composure and took the game to their half in the next 15 min, and got rewarded by a nicely lobbed Adrian kick, off of Kew's masterful through pass. 1-1
Although it was a tough battle all over the pitch, we were starting to feel comfortable with ourselves and the opposition, looking for a well-deserved half-time rest, when we were surprised once again on the very last attack of the half and let one in to close the half one down.
• Half Time ==> Australia 2-1 Europe
After rotating the subs (or whatever left of them!) at the half-time, we took to the field hoping to equalize early in the 2nd Half, which proved itself true via a along 30m cracking shot from Joe (or was it Paul?, no, no, . . . it was Joe!), which found itself into the top-left corner. 2-2
Again, we were getting comfortable with ourselves and the opposition, when we shot ourselves in the foot when we conceded an own goal from Kristian's head off of a beautifully placed cross on our left side, due to miscommunication in the defence. 3-2
That goal really took our steam away, but we kept on fighting as best as we can. Despite all of our efforts, in the waning moments of the game, Australians were able to knock in one more in a scramble in front of our goal mouth, coming from a corner kick.
• Full Time ==> Australia 4-2 Europe
Nevertheless, all of us enjoyed playing against the Australians who are really a squad full of fun-loving socially-unchallenged true Ozzy blokes. Hope we see them back in Bangkok soon.
All the players who showed up to play in our 3rd and last group game are the heroes of the team. We enjoyed being a part of the Seniors World Cup.
Sincere thanks to all the players of Team Europe for finding the time to make up a squad.
With this opportunity, all of us in Team Europe would like to send our heartfelt thanks to the Senior Footballers Association of Thailand, and most especially to Kh. Thepitak, the organizing chairman of the Seniors World Cup. It was a fantastic organization, and it was truly an honour and a high privilege to be part of this prestigious organization, regardless of the scores we achieved against such experienced teams (despite their age!)
This was a great experience for all of us, the feeling of being able to participate in a football "World Cup" at our own "mature" age!
If invited again, we hope to be back in the next year's edition, and promise to put up a better showing — both on & off the pitch!
Picture 35 — 3rd and last game of the Group Stage, Germany and South Korea shaking hands in the other group.
Picture 36 — South Korea was not much of a challenge for the "young" Germans.
Picture 37 — Ozzy wives in support of their spouses against Team Europe.
Picture 38 — And the ceremonies begin.
Picture 39 — Both teams making "the walk" out of the tunnel.
Picture 40 — Pre-game salutes to flags and national anthems.
Picture 41 — Pleasant handshakes before the kickoff.
Picture 42 — Exchanging pleasantries.
Picture 43 — Pre-game joint-team photo with our Ozzy friends.
Picture 44 — The midfield battle was a hard-fought one.
Picture 45 — Kevin is hard at work trying to get the ball out of our half.
Picture 46 — Team Europe calls it a day (or, more like, the tournament!) Standing: Paul, Joe, Steve (C), Robert, Kew, Eric, Keith, Derek (GK) Front: Eralp (M), Daviid, Jesper, Kristian, Svend
Football for Kids — 26/Apr/2007 (Thu)
P.E. Stadium, Chonburi
Thursday, Apr/26th, was a rest day between the Group Stage and Semi Finals. Organizers thoughtfully arranged the morning as a social day, allowing years of experience of these "senior" nationals to be used for more charitable purposes.
Picture 47 — Chonburi kids in awe of the experience on display.
Picture 48 — Keith is already in lucrative transfer talks with the Ozzy Managers.
Gala Dinner — 26/Apr/2007 (Thu)
The Tide Resort, Bangsaen
The evening part of the rest day was dedicated to a very social and grandiose Gala Dinner, where all teams participating in the Seniors World Cup had a chance to get together in a celebration of football and unique world cultures.
Picture 49 — Australia and Europe flags proudly flying on the same table.
Picture 50 — Team Europe's sole ambassador, Keith (in blue), solidifying our ties with our friends from DownUnder.
Picture 51 — Keith receiving Team Europe's gift from Australian Manager, Ken.
Picture 52 — Team Iran receiving its gift from tournament organizers.
Picture 53 — Keith, flanked by Mr. MC, Kh. Thepitak, giving the big "Thank You" speech on behalf of Team Europe.
Picture 54 — Keith lifting the elegant Seniors World Cup trophy that Team Europe was never close to winning!
Semi Finals — 27/Apr/2007 (Fri)
Actually, I couldn't find time to go watch the Semi Final matches, but I'm told they were both cracking games.
The scores were:
• Germany 5 - 0 Iran
• Taiwan 1 - 1 UAE (and 5-4 to Taiwan on penalties)
Grand Final — 28/Apr/2007 (Sat)
Germany -vs- Taiwan
It seemed like the most 2 deserving teams made it to the Grand Final. Having played against them (and clinically lost 4-1), I can certainly vouch for Taiwan. And, thanks to their "low" age average, Germany carried through the Group Stage and the SFs rather easily.
With the likes of Felix Magath, Manfred Kaltz, and some recently retired Bundesliga veterans, Germany seemed invincible on the paper. On the other hand, with a whole year of training together and full support of Taiwan FA under their belt, Taiwan wasn't going to be a pushover.
With much ceremony and pomp, in front of more than a 1,000 people and the live Channel-11 TV cameras, the game got a 30 min late kickoff.
It was quite slow going in the beginning until we saw these "youngsters" go at each other within 10 min. Germany seemed to possess the ball most of the time, and Taiwan had a few counter-attacks in return.
In one of these exchanges, a cracking low shot on the right side came back after banging Germany's right post. Germany also was trying the Taiwan goalkeeper with crosses from the flanks, and he was surely upto the test.
About 20 min in the 1st Half, Taiwan's stopper (#4) went in from behind to one of the German forwards. A foul call and an immediate yellow-card was deserved. And, less than 5 min later he did the same thing again to another German forward. The head-ref wasn't going to have it — another yellow-card, and marching orders!
Reduced to 10 men, Taiwan was considerably weekend on the pitch, lacking the attacking flair.
1st Half ended in an even draw.
• Half Time ==> Germany 0-0 Taiwan
Both teams were quick to get into the heat of the action right from the beginning of the 2nd Half. Numerous attacks cam and gone, with both teams fiercely testing each others defence and keepers.
As usual, Germans were calm and contained, with well thought-out strings of passes, and Taiwanese were quick & nimble, with long & short passes sprinkled all over the park. It seemed like both teams were content with the amount of football (and sun) they got in the last 4-5 days, and they just wanted this thing to come to an end.
However, German #20 obviously thought differently. In what looked like another boring attack where the Germans were just passing around and the Taiwanese were simply defending with big numbers in the back, a sleepy pass to the left edge of the penalty-box was hit with a ferocious bend that even David Beckham would have envied, it lobbed the Taiwan defence as well as the keeper and went right into the right top-corner in a hurry. Masterful ....!!!!
The Taiwanese were totally stunned, as the crowd erupted to a thunderous cheer. With only 5 min left in the game, this was not easy to recover from. Taiwan tried with all their might to equalize the game in the waning minutes — to no avail!
Germany was the world champions (again), albeit in the "Seniors" category..!
• Full Time ==> Germany 1-0 Taiwan
All-in-all, a fantastic organization, comfortable accommodations, delicious food, great pitches, and above all, a terrific social atmosphere.
Team Europe made some new good friends, especially the wonderful lads from DownUnder. Sincere congratulations to Kh. Thepitak and all the crew from Seniors Footballers Association of Thailand, showing genuinely true Thai hospitality throughout the whole event.
We wish the Seniors World Cup organization our best and success in organizing the future events, and looking forward to see SWC become a major milestone in our annual touring schedule.
Team Europe won't forget the experience ..!!
Picture 55 — Taiwanese senior stars in pre-game pep-talk.
Picture 56 — The VIP Stand, specially reserved for dignitaries, slowly filling up.
Picture 57 — The Grand Finalist teams doing "the tunnel walk".
Picture 58 — Pre-game salutes to flags and national anthems.
Picture 59 — And, the Grand Final gets the kickoff.
Picture 60 — Taiwanese on the attack early in the game.
Picture 61 — Germans press for a goal fiercely.
Picture 62 — Pleasant handshakes after the full-time whistle.
Picture 63 — Germans in waiting to take championship trophy.
Picture 64 — Taiwan captain receives their consolation runners-up medals.
Picture 65 — German captain receives their winners medals.
Picture 66 — Germans are handed their World Cup trophy.
Picture 67 — And, the sparks fly.
Picture 68 — More sparks!
Picture 69 — . . . . and confetti, while German Captain, Felix Magath, lifting the Seniors World Cup trophy.
Picture 70 — A family portrait with the World (Senior) Champions!
Picture 71 — Seniors World Cup champions, Germany, jubilantly line up for a final photo.
Reality bites when a team thrown together at the last minute is pitted up against ex-professionals that have been training for the event for a year. We knew we were in for a tough evening and the fear was only kept at bay by some ever-optimistic jingoism from some of the lads and the general feeling that we were privileged to be invited to such a competition. Taiwan had beaten Australia the night before and some of the lads reported that their players were swift and looked to move the ball quickly. How swift and how fit the players were became very evident the moment the game kicked off. Those players that had the misfortune to play in right midfield or right back were soon to experience the gulf in class with most of the Taiwan attacks coming down that side. Derek played well in goals and thanks to his good goalkeeping and the Taiwan forwards letting us off the hook a little, the Team Europe went into half-time only 1-0 down.
The second half saw what on paper would be a dream partnership of (French) Daviid and (Dane) Anders leading the line, but they could do little to unlock the smooth defending of the Taiwanese. There was a 10 min period in the second half when the Euros took the game to the Taiwanese (who, admittedly were giving there excellent midfield a rest), but with players pushing up, we were hit by counter attacks that led to two more goals. However, the Euros had their moment of glory when our only local Thai representative, Kh. Decha, scored to make it 3-1. The celebration was short lived, as Taiwan stormed back up the pitch and made it 4-1 in a flash.
The highlight for this observer and player was seeing Daivid fox 3 defenders on the by-line in the first half, sending them all one way and then back the other before putting a ball across the goal. Of course, none of us were there to greet it, but it was a small measure of the medicine that we were being overdosed with.
The team as a whole worked very hard and every player tried to compete albeit against a superior side. Special mention goes to Steve and big Eric in defence who battled through a tough game, and also to Kristian who showed us all how to compete in midfield with some crunching tackles.
Taiwan deservedly went on to contest in the Grand Final against Germany, and this helps to put the result and the nature of the defeat into perspective.
Cheers and congratulations to all the players especially those who were able to compete on all 3 nights. I raise my hat to you all.
Feel free to e-mail to me if you would like to voice your take on the above summary, or would like to obtain the original resolution pictures.