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Sweden, Finland, North Korea - The 42nd King's Cup

Thai National Team Teerasil Dangda

Teerasil: Atletico instead King's Cup
image: © Thananuwat Srirasant

The 42nd edition of the King's Cup takes place in Chiang Mai from 23 to 26 January with slightly different rules than we have seen in recent years. Beside the home side, Sweden, Finland and North Korea to compete in the traditional tournament.

The "King's Cup" to honour his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej counts as one of the eldest tournament throughout Asia held since 1968. Only three times, in 1983, 2008 and 2011, the competition did not take place. 2012 champion South Korea, which could win the cup one year ago against a Denmark XI will not be able to defend its title. Beside Thailand as host, the national sides of Sweden, Finland and North Korea is invited for the 42nd issue.

Compared to recent years we will see some rule change this year. Turning away from round robin league format at whose end the winner is determined by most points from three matches, towards to a pure tournament mode. The winners of the first two games are to meet in the final battling for the cup - while both losers to meet for a third place play-off game. In case of a stalemate after 90 minutes, no extra time will be played and it goes directly in the penalty shoot-out.

After losing the AFF Suzuki Cup to Singapore, Thailand head coach Winfried Schafer spent a well-earned vacation with his beloved ones in his native country Germany. While being there, the German coach announced a squad of 28-man early January for the Kings Cup. After coming back to Thailand he was left with little time, founding himself heading to the training camp in Chiang Mai right after. But rather the 28-man he called up, he found his squad shrinked to 19. Subsequently and after thorough consideration several players were called up as a late replacement. At the end he have put together a mixture of experienced players and prospects.

Some proven players were not nominated by Winnie to spare them after a long season. Others were called back at short notice by their respective clubs because of injuries. Or had to withdraw like Apipoo Suntornpanavej, who is in preparation for his monk ordination. Teerasil Dangda, currently on trial with Atletico Madrid, maybe would not have been called up either way.

Thailand's first opponent on Wednesday are the Scandinavians from Finland. Back home their fans joking about the trip of theirs Eleven. Thinking the national team would be on a pleasure trip. Getting some tan and lay down on beautiful beaches the country has to offer. Though the stupid thing is, Chiang Mai is as far off the beaches as Helsinki is of St. Petersburg - twice. A good of 800 kilometres.

However, the Finns arrived with some famous names and well known internationals. Probably the most well known is former Birmingham City and Leeds United striker Mikael Forssell (now with Helsinki HJK). But also Mika Väyrynen (57 caps) and Teemu Tainio (52 caps) have traveled with the team and can be considered experienced internationals. With Tuomas Rannankari, under contract at Greuther Furth, coach Mixu Paatelainen even has a player from the German Bundesliga in his team. The last time a Finnish national side visited Thailand within the scope of the competition was 13 years ago. In 2000 the Finns lost the final to Thailand 5-1. Something similar might be hardly to be expected this year. However, at that time, Anurak Srikert provided for three goals and Pipat Tonkanya hit one. A certain Toni Kallio, after all in services for Muang Thong in 2011, provided for the consolation goal for the visitors.

The national team of Sweden so far had been involved in the tournament three times and could lift the trophy on every occasion. Now for a fourth time? The last time Sweden won the King's Cup was in 2003 after a 4-0 win over North Korea which will be the first opponent also on Wednesday. Though the second Scandinavian participant enters with a relatively young squad, Tobias Hysén, Daniel Majstorović and above all Anders Svensson can be called experienced internationals. 

Despite the fact both European sides did not travel to Thailand in full strength, both Scandinavian representatives take the tournament very serious. The official websites of the Swedish and Finland FA reporting on a daily base on what is going on in the camp and around the games with camera and keyboard. TV4 Sports even shows both games of Sweden live on TV.

And just during the last years it appeared that when watching the "King's Cup", the possibility is quite high one is able to observe young talents, becoming rising stars later. During the Cup in 2009 at Nakhon Ratchasima, a player with the Poland XI could draw attention. His name: Robert Lewandowski. Today he is hunting for goals in the Bundesliga and is one of the most popular strikers in Europe.

Quite differently it behaves with the north Koreans of course. Although meanwhile some have found its way to Thailand and Europe, most of them were not born in North Korea. With eight participation the North Koreans can be count as one of the to most popular teams who have received an invitation for the "King's Cup" up to now. There it goes.. Since directly after the arrival at Bangkok Airport the whole team refused interviews and questions. Arriving in clothes of supplier Adidas, it reminded a little of the former GDR. Once upon a time the soccer national team of the GDR was also equipped by the manufacturer from Herzogenaurach. But the football players of the GDR substantially might have been more open.

On our King's cup extra page you will not find not only quick facts and facts of the tournament, but also the squad lists of Thailand, Sweden and Finland.

In Thailand all games will are broadcast live by NBT 11. For tickets please contact either Thai Ticket Major or get your tickets at boxes around the 700th Anniversary Stadium in Chiang Mai.


 
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