With T1 bizarrely deciding to take a 3 week break to accommodate the King’s Cup, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the tournament which starts its 45th edition this afternoon.
The King’s Cup is a four team tournament which features semi-finals, a final and a third-place playoff. It has been held nearly every year since 1968, and features Thailand, plus three other invited teams. It’s not uncommon for teams to decline the invitation though, so often there are some rather unconventional participants. Take the 1981 tournament for example, which saw Thailand battle it out with the North Korean Army, August 1 (a Chinese side also known as The People’s Liberation Army Bayi Football Club) and Polonia Warsaw from the Polish third tier.
This edition of the King’s Cup was tipped by organizers to be the grandest yet, with invitations reportedly sent to Uruguay, France and the Czech Republic. Their ambitions have not quite been realized, however, and the three teams who eventually accepted their invitations were Burkina Faso, Belarus and North Korea. With ELO rankings (much more accurate than FIFA) of 54, 67, and 79 respectively, this would still be a considerable step up for Thailand – ranked at 111 – but Burkina Faso and Belarus have sent B teams, whilst North Korea have included a whole host of youngsters in place of their best players. Not quite the field the organizers had in mind, it must be said.
What may at first glance appear to be a random group of countries scattered across the globe is in-fact a group with more in common than you might think. Their leaders rather like power. Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea is well known to the world for his limitless power and his supposed lack of an anus (no, seriously), but Alexander Lukashenko – the President of Belarus – is less infamous despite having been in power for almost 24 years, and saying that Hitler wasn’t really that bad. Not only does he have an asshole, he is an asshole. Burkina Faso is in comparison a positive Utopia. The head honcho is Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was elected President after a military coup in 2015. Then there are the hosts. No comment.
Reports that the 2018 King’s Cup is set to feature ISIS, The Imperial Storm troopers and Westboro Baptist Church are as yet unconfirmed. I would like to go on the record and say it’s very unlikely. They would never have organized it this far in advance.
The Cup will kick off this afternoon with Burkina Faso taking on Belarus at 16:30, and Thailand facing off with the North Koreans at 19:30. The finals and play-offs will be on Sunday. Thailand should fancy their chances against North Korea, who would be favourites at full strength, but with a host of youngsters are probably the underdogs. Despite missing superstars Teerasil and Chanathip, Thailand have a strong squad including exciting Thai-German debutant Phillip Roller and old favourite Teeratep Winothai, who has enjoyed a resurgence this season at Bangkok United.
I will be sure to keep you all up to date with proceedings, as it’s an international break and I’ve got nothing better to do.
Featured Image by AFP Getty Images