NEYMAR Jr.’s Five made its return to the Philippines for two consecutive back-to-back weekends for the tournament’s opening qualifiers in Manila and Cebu, with Perpolise emerging as the biggest winner.
Overall, the series saw a host of teams advancing to the National Finals on Saturday at Turf BGC, in Taguig.
Qualifying teams include French Kiss FC, International Manila, Tenth Power, Naij FC, The Tenth Power B, Realcelona, Tala Cu Chi and Perspolise in the Manila Qualifier A; Koora, Selecao, ABCDE FC, Ballers FC, National FC, Brazilipinas and Tondo FC in the Manila Qualifier B and Lylam FC A in the Cebu Qualifier (Liga 5v5).
Neymar Jr.’s Five is a global phenomenon and is the Brazilian forward’s signature football tournament. Every year, the Neymar Jr.’s Five brings together players from all corners of the world to celebrate their love for football in a fast, technical, and fun competition. Each match lasts for 10 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.
Perspolise came out as the big winner of Qualifier A at the Blue Pitch, in Circuit Makati last Saturday. The team included Team Captain Hamed Hajimahdi, who was a member of the Iran International Football team. Perspolise took the much coveted first place spot after defeating second place winners, Naij FC.
“It was good,” said Hajimahdi. “Football is my life; I have been playing since I was thirteen years old. We want to have fun at the Finals, and we want to go to Brazil.”
Qualifier A also saw the return of Realcelona’s Martin Sarmiento, who had played in last year’s Neymar Jr’s Five with Legion FC.
“It was very challenging and it gave us a lot of experience, since we haven’t played together before,” said Sarmiento. “Perspolise was our hardest opponent today, but we are going to train more and play a few games outside the tournament to prepare for the finals. Hopefully, we can make it to Brazil!”
SPARTA PH hosted Qualifier B on April 14.
“We played better than last year,” said Tondo FC team captain, Dennis Balbin. “We really had to prepare for this year. We worked on team defense and organization. We learned that Neymar Jr’s Five is really a team effort. We had difficulties, but this time we proved that we could do it.”
The following day, Neymar Jr.’s Five advanced to Cebu for Qualifier C at the Guiseppe Football Club. The Visayas-leg of the tournament saw a total of 10 teams competing in several grueling rounds of competitive play, with Leylam FC-A scoring the first place win from Leylam FC-B.
For the first time, this year’s edition of Neymar Jr.’s Five showcased a number of female participants that included French Kiss FC’s Jennifer Cornelio, along with Aliah Reonal and Niveen McEvoy from Asians on the Loose, both of whom were initially questioned by the venue’s guards upon entry.
“At first, we were hesitant to join because it’s dominated by guys, a few big ones, but we thought this is a good opportunity and definitely a good experience,” said Reonal. “Gender should not hinder whatever you want to do. Just because you are a girl, it should not be a surprise that you are playing football. It is normal.”