A Bayon Wanderers player (centre, blue) drags his shot wide during their Bayon Challenge final against Saigon Hotshots yesterday. Photograph: Calvin Yang/Phnom Penh Post
Local favourites Bayon Wanderers continued winning international club competitions after defeating Vietnamese side Saigon Hotshots 1-0 yesterday evening in a nail-biting final of the 2012 Bayon Challenge.
The recent K9 champions also managed to lift the coveted silverware without going via a dreaded penalty shootout, which has decided the winners of the past four finals.
“We have been looking to win this competition for so long, and it’s great to finally take home the trophy this year,” Laurent Notin, co-captain and goalkeeper of the Bayon Wanderers, told the Post.
At the end of the six-team, round-robin tournament at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium, the Bayon Wanderers, runners-up to ACLEDA FC in the 2009 edition, won the game by a lone goal when a cross from the right found Apollo Ande unmarked in the centre of the 18-yard box.
The attacking midfielder, who was nursing a swollen left ankle, was initially denied a shot by a Saigon Hotshots defender but made no mistake with the rebound, finding the back of the net after just 10 minutes of play.
The visitors created some opportunities in the second half, but never posed a threat to the one-goal lead held by the local side.
Justin Colebrissi, co-captain of the Saigon Hotshots, said of the loss: “Today, we fell a bit flat and some of our players were tired. We had our chances but it was unfortunate. Overall, we are happy to have played here. The Bayon Wanderers fully deserve the win.”
The Bayon Challenge football tournament, in its 11th edition, has grown to include top amateur teams since its founding in 1996 and now sits firmly in the region’s amateur club sporting calendar.
Tournament organiser Billy Barnaart noted another successful hosting of the annual event.
“We had two great days of competition, and we are definitely looking forward to next year’s competition,” he said.
Five teams have already confirmed their participation next time out, with new additions Swiss Club Singapore and Finexsys from Kuala Kumpur set to join current runners-up Saigon Hotshots, five-time Saigon International Football League champions Olympique de Saigon and Hanoi domestic-double winners Hanoi Drink Team in the 2013 edition.
Barnaart, who coaches both the Bayon Wanderers and the Apsara Dancers, added: “Hopefully, more Cambodian teams can join us next year and use the experience of this tournament to know what it means to play against foreign teams.”
1st - Bayon Wanderers
2nd - Saigon Hotshots
3rd - Olympique de Saigon
4th - Hanoi Drink Team
5th - Apsara Dancers
6th - Saigon Saints
To contact the reporter on this story: Calvin Yang at [email protected]