On Saturday, April 21st, 2018, tournament favorites Tondo FC lost to Perspolise at a score of 4-0 at the Neymar Jr’s Five National Finals at Turf BCG, in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.
“I think we were all rooting for Tondo FC, they would have made a great story!” says Sports Director Anton del Rosario. “But I’m happy for Perspolise, I’ve got friends there. On the world finals, Perspolise won’t play like they’re on vacation. They’re going to play to win!”
During last year’s inaugural Neymar Jr’s Five Philippine Qualifier, Tondo FC won the hearts of event-goers as the tournament’s sentimental favorites. Following the withdrawal of Baggie FC, Tondo FC surprised everyone when they advanced to the finals in a losing-effort to Naxional in an intense and hotly contested battle.
“We played better than last year,” shares Tondo FC’s Dennis Balbin. “We really had to prepare for this year. We worked on team defense and organization, learning that Neymar Jr’s Five is really a team effort.”
In its second year in the Philippines, Neymar Jr’s Five drew many teams in a series of qualifying rounds in Manila and Cebu. In the end, 16 teams advanced to the National Finals:
- · French Kiss FC
- · International Manila
- · Tenth Power
- · Naij FC
- · The Tenth Power B
- · Realcelona
- · Tala Cu Chi
- · Perspolise
- · Koora
- · Selecao
- · ABCDE FC
- · Ballers FC
- · National FC
- · Brazilipinas
- · TondoFC
- · Leylam FC A
Perspolise made their mark in Qualifier A when they scored the highly coveted first place win. The team consists of Louis Serge Kaole, Otuyemi Emmanuel, Junior Stephen Ngong Sam, John Paul Canieso, Okoh Anthony Alechanu and Team Captain Hamed Hajimehdi, a member of the Iranian International Football team. Through this win, Perspolise advances to represent the Philippines at the World Finals at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. in Praria Grande, Brazil.
“It was good, we brought out our best players and we are excited to go to Brazil!” shares Hajimehdi. “Football is my life, I have been playing since I was thirteen years old. It allowed me to play in many countries and all clubs. It’s also my job, football is my life!”
“It was a tough game, but everything worked out for us in the finals”, shares Perspolise’s head-coach Mikee Carrion. “It’s a great honor for us to represent the country. We’re going to go there and have fun, but everybody has to watch out because we’re representing the Philippines!”
Neymar Jr’s Five is the Brazilian forward’s signature football tournament. The tournament brings together players from all corners of the world to celebrate their shared love for football in a fast, technical, and fun competition. Each match lasts for ten minutes of play. There is no goalkeeper and the moment one team scores, the opposition loses a player. The only way to win is to outplay them all!