The Cup is an AFC certified and FIFA-sanctioned international ‘A’ tournament.

The 47th edition of the King’s Cup is around the corner and the four participants- India, Curacao, Vietnam and hosts Thailand are all set to lock horns with each other next month. Let us get familiarized with the Cup, which is supposed to be the most talked-about tournament in Asia at the moment.

History

An invitational event, the Annual King’s Cup football tournament or simply called the King’s Cup, is an international competition organized every year by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT). The Cup was first played in the year 1968 when Indonesia had emerged the first-ever winners as they defeated Myanmar (then Burma), 1-0 in the final held in Bangkok.

In the last 46 editions of the Cup, hosts Thailand have won the most number of titles (15), followed by South Korea (7) and Malaysia (4) in third place. In the 2018 edition, Slovakia had clinched the crown, beating the hosts 3-2 in the final, while Gabon stood in third.

Significance

The 47th edition of the King’s Cup is expected to kickoff on 5th June and the trophy was unveiled earlier this month by the President of FAT, Maj. Gen. Dr. Somyot Pumpanmuang along with several other dignitaries of the association.

Certified by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), the King’s Cup is also regarded as a ‘royal trophy’ in Thailand, having  a strong connection with King Rama IX. During a press conference, President Somyot asserted that the Thai national team is ready to emerge victorious in the Cup and bring ‘happiness’ to the people.

Moreover, since the Cup is acknowledged by FIFA, the results of the matches will have an impact on the world rankings of the participating teams, meaning it will be of equally great importance to the visiting countries too.

Furthermore, Chang Arena is believed to be the official venue of the tournament, which fits the criteria of AFC and has previously been used during the AFC Champions League too.

Structure

The inaugural King’s Cup in 1968 consisted of a total of six teams, each placed in two groups, between whom a league format was played. The table-toppers of each group directly qualified for the final, while the second-placed teams fought for a bronze medal finish.

However, as years passed, the format of the Cup kept changing and initially the number of participating teams increased. Since the 1990s till now, it all came down to four nations being invited each year as the FAT reduced the course of the tournament.

As per the current format, there will be two direct semi-final being played amongst the four participating teams and a draw after 90 minutes will see the match go to a penalty shootout.


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India in King’s Cup

India last participated in the King’s Cup in the year 1977 and had finished at a commendable third position, winning three of their five games and losing just once. Malaysia and the B team of South Korea shared the title that year having produced a goalless draw in the final.

This will be the first time in 18 years that India will be playing in a FIFA-recognized tournament, the last being in 2001, the Merdeka Tournament in Kuala Lumpur. It will also mark the competitive debut of Igor Stimac, who was recently appointed the new head coach of the Blue Tigers.

Having named a strong squad including several youngsters, Stimac will be the focal point when the Tigers hit the ground running on 5th June against Curacao. Moreover, India will be all set to seek redemption after a disappointing campaign at the AFC Asian Cup earlier this year.