The Cambodian Eagles AFL team hit a 10-year high by winning the 2016 Indochina Cup, which concluded in Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, last weekend.
This was the first premiership success for the Eagles in nearly a decade of their involvement with the AFL Asia League.
The tournament was played as a four-way between the Eagles, Myanmar Fighting Cocks, Thailand Tigers and Vietnam Swans. The Eagles travelled with a small squad of 15 players, four of whom were 40-something veterans, four Khmer nationals, six other Aussie expats and an American.
Other teams were far better represented with squads of 20 or more to choose from, so it was a fantastic against-the-odds win by a hard-knit, committed team.
Game one was against old foes Vietnam, a Division 1 team that usually dispatch the Eagles with ease.
But this time the story was different as the Eagles swamped the Swans 36-7.
The big win over the Swans gave the Eagles plenty of wind in their feathers as they took to the pitch for game two against hosts the Myanmar Fighting Cocks. the Eagles harried the Cocks no end in a 46-0 blowout.
After the lunch break, the Eagles came out in game three against Thailand. Being guaranteed a place in the grand final took some pressure off the Eagles.
Thailand got a head of steam and nailed three towards the end to win by just eight points, holding off a very determined Eagles squad.
The Tigers proved too good, winning 28-20 So the scene was set for the grand finale. The Eagles were clear percentage break leaders, while the Thai side had scraped in to set up a repeat of game three.
The Eagles were keen – however, with just a one-man bench there had been little chance for any rest from the humid, energy-sapping heat.
Eventually, the Eagles prevailed over the Tigers 27-20 in the crunch game to clinch their first major title since the inception of the club. To top off the day, the ever consistent Grant Fitzgerald was named Player of the Tournament, making him a deserved “King of the Cups”.