Tournament newcomers Angkor Tour Guides win Angkor FC Cup Sunday
Players of the Angkor Tour Guides Association team rush to celebrate their Cup final shootout success with winning penalty scorer Yutha Manh (unseen) at Siem Reap’s Provincial Teacher Training College Sunday.
KHMER Angkor Tour Guide Association celebrated its maiden Angkor FC Cup in style when it was crowned this year's champions after defeating Koulen II 4-3 in a heart-stopping penalty shootout in the final Sunday in Siem Reap.
The hero of the moment was sky blues captain Yutha Manh, who sealed his team's narrow win after nudging a shot wide of Koulen II goalkeeper Than Ho's grasp.
"We're ecstatic with the result today," the breathless 23-year-old midfielder told the Post moments after scoring the winning goal.
"Our team has played together for more than a year, but this is the first time we were invited to take part in the Angkor FC Cup. We're already looking forward to coming back again next year."
Cup promotes friendship
The six-team knockout competition, hosted at the Provincial Teacher Training College, now has three different teams for its three-year history etched onto the winning plate. The Angkor FC Cup was founded by Siem Reap-based Korean Rotary International president and match day referee, Yoon Dai Yoon, who said the aim of the tournament was to promote friendship through football.
"The Angkor FC Cup has grown bigger and stronger each year, but forging friendship by our shared passion for football has remained the same. We hope we can continue running the cup for many more years" he said.
Tour Guides' passage to the day's final game was built on the back of an unlikely upset; snaring a hard-fought 1-0 win against tournament namesakes Angkor FC.
Koulen II were more convincing, cruising to back-to-back 2-0 victories against formidable opponents Heng Sovann (HSV) and Tao FC.
Battling sweltering conditions and an uneven pitch hampered by heavy rain the night before, Tour Guides and Koulen II headed into the final evenly poised for glory. Koulen II had the best of early chances up front, but poor finishing resulted in many promising attempts on goal sailing harmlessly wide.
The 400-strong crowd was vocal throughout the game, until an anxious silence took over as referee Yoon Dai pointed to the penalty spot at the end of a scoreless draw in regulation time.
With the added tension of a sudden death shootout format, both teams' strikers made no mistake in the opening three rounds, coolly slotting home pinpoint missiles from the penalty spot. However, when Koulen II defender Man Sihak drifted his shot over the crossbar, opposite number Yutha Manh was gifted his chance to snatch victory.
In the tournament's playoff for third place, HSV edged out Angkor FC in similar nail-biting circumstances, winning 3-1 in a penalty shootout after normal time ended in an entertaining 4-4 draw.