Ezecom’s Kheav Panhrith (right) vies with Bayon Wanderers’ Francois Courtel during the 2011 Bayon Challenge at Old Stadium. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Ezecom took top honours in the 10th Bayon Challenge International Football Tournament after a thrilling 2-1 penalty shootout victory over Hanoi Drink Team in the final at the Old Stadium on Sunday.
The teams were left goalless at the end of regulation time and the first set of three penalties failed to break the deadlock. However, Ezecom kept their nerve in the second batch to record their first major triumph on a football pitch.
At the end of the four-team group phase of the competition, the visiting Hanoi Drink Team topped the table with seven points followed by Apsara on six, Ezecom on 5, and Bayon Wanderers with none.
In the first semifinal, the team from Hanoi beat Bayon Wanderers 2-0, while Ezecom and Apsara played out a 0-0 draw, a repeat of their group clash. With pitch time at a premium, penalties were cancelled and the organisers decided that Ezecom deserved a place in the final. The third place playoff between Apsara and Bayon was also cut due to time constraints and will now be played at 2pm this Sunday at Old Stadium.
Controversy surrounding the previous choice of venue at the 7NG grounds had sparked late withdrawals from Saigon Saints and Wing with rights groups raising issues of land grabbing at the site. Four teams remained committed despite the debate still raging, with the organisers forced to switch back to Old Stadium for just a single day’s play as opposed to the traditional two-day affair.
“We are thankful for the support from all our sponsors like Phoenix Security, Tiger Beer, Coca Cola, Dan’s Meat, Dimensions UPVC Windows and Doors, SOS Medical Clinic and JBCF,” event organiser Billy Barnaart told the Post yesterday.
The 62-year-old Dutchman also expressed his intent to restore the Bayon Challenge to its former glory. “What happened is unfortunate. We will hold another tournament as good as the ones we have organised over the last 10 years,” he said, adding that next year’s edition would be slated for the first week of June.