THE annual Penang Sports Club (PSC)-Carlsberg International Soccer Sevens showdown has lived up to its name as an international tournament.
From just a handful of 12 teams (eight Malaysian and four foreign) in the inaugural tournament in 2000, the event has attracted the maximum 44 teams for its 16th edition this year of which 29 are foreign ones.
Event organising chairman Dr N. Kalaikumar said the foreign teams included those from China who would be featuring in the tournament for the first time this year with two teams.
He said the other foreign teams were from Indonesia which topped the lists with eight teams followed by Thailand (six), Maldives and Singapore (three teams each), Australia, Brunei and Europe (two teams each) and Taiwan (one team).
Besides China’s Old Friends Football teams, other newcomers for the event at the PSC greens in Jalan Utama from March 7 to 8 are Indonesia’s Bintang Timur FC, JICT FC (both from Jakarta) and Binjai Putra FC (Medan) and Thailand’s Bangkok Spartakus.
“It is indeed overwhelming that we have received such tremendous support from our foreign counterparts. This has indeed enabled us to live up to the status as an international tournament,” said Dr Kalaikumar, who is also the PSC soccer captain.
He said the big number of foreign teams would also help boost tou-rism as the foreign players would bring along their families to Penang as well.
The big number of foreign teams, however, meant that hosts PSC have to turn away local outfits as they are able to handle a maximum of only 44 teams since it is only a two-day tournament.
“As much as we would love to entertain our local sides who are undoubtedly growing in numbers and eager to feature in our annual showdown due to its growing popularity, we are just unable to do so.
“We could parade only two Penang outfits — Bukit Jambul and our very own PSC team — in the Veterans event and another of our club team in the Masters event,” Dr Kalaikumar said.
He said the other 12 Malaysian teams were from other parts of the country, adding that they included Black Eagles FC of Sabah.
Title holders — Veterans champions Kilat Club of Kuala Lumpur and Masters champions Senior Bangkok Classic — will be back to defend their crowns.
Two-time Veterans champions Jurong Weston of Singapore, who are powered by former Singapore national stars such as Abbas Saad, Esad Sedjic, V. Sundramoorthy and Marco Kraljevic, will also be back to try to regain the title they last won in 2012.
Malaysian fans can look forward to see their stars of yesteryear in the likes of A. Rukkumaran, Thoong Chee Eng, Chee Wan Hoe, Yong Woon Seang, Alen Bajkusa, Martin Tierney and Fadzil Ismail.
Veterans: Soccer Experience, Fat Boys FC (Europe), Soccer Veterans Asso Maldives, Valencia Veterans (Maldives), Old Friend Football Team (China), Bangkok Airways, Samutprakan (Thailand), Bintang Timur FC, JICT FC, Kurnia Medan City, Kworta FC, Medan City Pramata (Indonesia), Jurong Wes-ton (Singapore), Black Eagles FC (Sabah), Port Rangers FC, Royal Selangor Club (Selangor), Kilat Club, RRYC (Kuala Lumpur), Bukit Jambul Club, Penang Sports Club (Penang).
Masters: Soccer Veterans Asso Maldives (Maldives), Leeming Strickers, Forrest United (Australia), Old Friend Football Team (China), Taiwan Medical University (Taiwan), Samutprakan, Senior Bangkok Classic, Friends of Bangkok, Bangkok Spartakus (Thailand), Binjai Putra FC, Pertamina FC, Trisakti FC (Indonesia), Brunei Masters, Rimba Star FC (Brunei), Essex Lasallians Veterans FC, ISCI (Singapore), HMFC (Johor), Port Rangers FC, Royal Selangor Club, Ulu Kelang Recreation Club (Selangor), Malaysian Grasshopper (Kuala Lumpur), Perak Chinese Recreation Club (Perak), Langkawi Veterans (Kedah) and Penang Sports Club (Penang).