Doha: The Qatar Football Association (QFA) kicked off the 6th Asian Communities Football Tournament this weekend with a thrilling opening ceremony at Al Gharafa Stadium that was attended by many fans, families, and children.
The opening ceremony on Friday was attended by a number of ambassadors including H.E. Mr. P. Kumaran, Ambassador of India to Qatar, H.E. Mr. Mohammad Basri Sidehabi, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Qatar, H.E. Mr. Jai Sohan Singh, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to Qatar, H.E. Mr. Ashud Ahmed, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Qatar and Mr. Amjad Mubaideen, Chargé D’affaires of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Qatar.
The opening ceremony featured a cultural show performed by the Indian, Filipino, Indonesian, and Malaysian communities who displayed spectacular dance performances. The show was followed by the twelve teams lining up on the pitch for the Qatar national anthem, and represented their countries by carrying their country’s flag.
An open-air bazaar in the fanzone area was also organised whereby different restaurants in Qatar setup their stalls and sold cultural food to visitors.
The 12-team tournament runs from 11 January to 30 March and matches are played in Al Gharafa Stadium, Al Markhiya Sports Club, and Doha Stadium. Matches are played on Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm and 9:20pm.
The first day of matches took place on Thursday 11 January which saw Malaysia win 1-0 against Philippines and Japan win 3-0 against Singapore.
Friday’s matches witnessed the winning of Jordan 2-1 against India where Jordan’s Ammar Abwiny and Ahmed Al Noaimat scored the two goals in the 25th and 45th minute respectively. The best player of the match was Jordan’s player number 22 Ammar Abwiny. The second match of the night saw Lebanon beat Indonesia 9-0. The best player of the second match was Lebanon’s player number 13 Mohammed Al Sagheer.
The tournament this year will follow the traditional format of twelve teams split into two groups where they will play group stage matches, followed with the top four teams of each group qualifying for the knockout stage.
The teams participating this year include Jordan, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Korea Republic, Singapore, Japan, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Hilal Al Mohannadi, Chairman of the Sub-Leagues Committee at the QFA said:” We are very happy with the turnout of fans at the opening ceremony this weekend which demonstrates their passion for football and support for their community teams. The ACFT demonstrates QFA’s objective which is to organise a tournament that acts as an effective tool to help support integration and positive community engagement amongst the various communities in Qatar through football.”
He added: “It also provides a unique opportunity for community teams to display their talents at an organised football tournament officiated by QFA referees.”
The ACFT is sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy as the official strategic partner, Nike as the official supplier, and Al Kass Sports Channels as the official broadcaster. Organised by the QFA, the ACFT is a community tournament which brings together various Asian communities residing in Qatar to display their football passion on the field, and encourages them to play more football in a fun competitive environment.
The ACFT was launched in sports season 2012-2013 and saw the participation of six teams. In its’ first edition, the tournament saw huge success and as a result, the following editions witnessed an increase in the number of participating teams as more communities expressed huge interest in being part of this exciting community tournament.