The competition, held in Phuket this year, was featured the top 16 U15 youth teams in the country that finished first and second in their regional leagues during the 2019 season. A draw was held to put the teams into four groups with the opening game played on Wednesday, June 19.
With the country’s best 15-year-old footballers battling for a top prize of B1 million, the stakes were high. Banners around the stadium highlighted that these were Thailand’s future football stars – ‘The World Cup Starts Here’.
After 11 days of intense football and a total of 54 matches played, the finale arrived last Sunday.
Group A winners Samut Sakhon FC, who topped their regional league, met Police Tero FC from Bangkok for the third-place playoff in the early kick-off. Although both teams passed the ball well and created chances, Samut Sakhon were a lot more clinical in the final third, and number nine, Thiraphat, proved troublesome for the Bangkok boys as his speedy runs caused problems in their defence.
Samut Sakhon claimed the bronze after putting two goals past Police Tero, both of which Thiraphat was involved in, assisting the first from a corner on the 34th minute and tapping in the second on the 75th after a lightning counter-attack with Thanakorn.
Samut Sakhon were awarded B200,000 in prize money for their third-place finish while Police Tero received B100,000 for their efforts.
The final kicked off at 4pm between Group D winners Assumption United FC of Bangkok and BG Pathum United from Pathum Thani. Both teams dominated their regional leagues during the season and had impressive runs to reach the final, so expectations were high.
Although there was good play-making from both sides throughout, both struggled to produce the final touches to put numbers on the scoresheet, leaving the match goalless after 90 minutes. As no extra time is played in the current format of the competition, the match went straight to penalties to settle the score.
Assumption won the toss and captain Theekawin opted to shoot first.
Although the long walk to the penalty spot would usually be a daunting prospect in a Champions League final, the lack of spectators here relieved the players somewhat of that pressure.
As Theekawin went to take the first penalty, he anticipated goalkeeper Thanagorn’s move to the left and placed the ball into the bottom right corner to open the scoring.
Number eight, Sattawat, then stepped up to the spot for BG Pathum. He shot at the bottom left corner but keeper Kasidaj made a great dive to save it.
After five penalties the score was 3-0 with Assumption on the verge of lifting the trophy.
Nattakit then managed to put one past the Assumption keeper, followed by Assumption striker Oluwafemianapat’s miss off the right post to make it 3-1. BG Pathum captain, Thanakrit, then made it 3-2 after eight penalties.
Finally, Kittin stepped up for Assumption’s fifth penalty – a goal would end the match. He made his run with no hesitation and put the ball into the bottom right corner, stripping off his shirt in celebration as the team and staff all ran onto the pitch.
The ref showed him a yellow for the shirt but that didn’t dampen the mood. The team lifted the coveted trophy in the midst of fireworks and confetti and were awarded the top prize of B1 million while BG Pathum, with several of their players in tears, left with the runner-up prize of B500,000.