With the mercury edging 35 degrees, it was at least ten degrees hotter on Thanyapura’s synthetic pitch – hot enough to melt football boots and reporters’ flip flops – making for a taxing day of sport for all involved.
Fifteen teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Australia and Thailand travelled to
Phuket for the tournament, with two referees from Singapore also adding to the international flavour.
Despite a couple of late withdrawals affecting the tournament schedule, the Smart Communications team from Dubai managed to progress through to the Open Cup final undefeated, coming up against the locally-based Phuket Italians.
After a thrilling 15 minutes of football that saw a couple of spectacular goals and a late Phuket fightback, there was nothing to separate the two sides, and so the match entered a five minute golden-goal extra time period.
Smart Comm had looked the more attacking side throughout the final, and started extra time strongly with two good chances on goal.
But against the run of play, a well weighted throw from the Italians’ goalkeeper found forward Jacopo Jajo in clear space, and he casually headed over the keeper to win the tournament for the home side. In the Bowl final, Pulau Ubin defeated Thanyapura 2-0, reversing the result of an earlier pool game Thanyapura had won 2-1.
In the Master’s (over-35) Cup final, Emirates Color Services also reversed a previous 2-8 loss to Phuket Morning Star to run out 4-0 winners.
Tournament organiser Tim Hodgson said the Songkran event – a first for Phuket – is likely to be a regular installment on the local sporting calendar.
“This one was basically a test event to see how it would work during Songkran, and
we think it will,” he said.
“Being here for Songkran is just an added bonus, coming to another country to see them celebrate the new year.”
The Phuket International Soccer 7s and Andaman International Soccer 7s tournaments will run as usual in November. Visit thai7s.com for more info.