After a great season and international appearances by a number of our players, it goes without saying that we would challenge for the top spot in Phnom Penh. So in Hotshots fashion, we rounded up the team and traveled west for our second international tournament of 2012. This would prove to be our most challenging outing yet as we played about 300 minutes over 2 days, at least 10% more than any other team in the entire tournament.
Friday saw the start of our journey west, and was far from uneventful as we approached the Cambodian border for our first real taste of the country. Once making it through boarder control, the energy of the team became visible and everyone who woke up at 6a.m. to catch the bus was excited about getting to the hotel and Captain’s meeting. We arrived at the Hotel to find a very supportive staff wearing our logo and showing a lot of love for our entire team. We quickly made our way to the rooftop pool where we began to talk strategy over a case of cold beer.
The Captain’s meeting proved to be a great meeting place for new and old friends as the teams talked and laughed about memories past, and who would walk away with the trophies at the end. Confident teams then participated in the draw, finding Hotshots seated 1st again for the second straight tournament, we pulled the first game at 8:30am Saturday. No surprises there, we left the Captains meeting, and after a nice team dinner and a few drinks later, we got back to the hotel and went for another swim.
Saturday morning showed Hotshots were in fact the team to beat as we started the tournament in good form. This continued through Saturday and saw us ranked 1st again, same as in Bangkok. Finishing the day 3-0-2 we had a small cushion with which to use if needed on Sunday to ensure a spot in the final. This would prove to once again be a bad thing for us, being a travel expat team of hooligans, feeling great most of us headed into town for a night of local experiences that can never be talked about.
As the night seemed to fade away into Sunday, we saw the team’s energy do the same. Sunday started out a bit different than Saturday with Saints not showing up for their first 2 games. Unfortunately for us, this meant that Hotshots would be forced to play all their games in a shorter time span over the day. This complicated things as we were also giving other teams players because they did not have enough. Ultimately this hurt us as a few key players found injuries late on Sunday, and after playing more games than any other team, we really needed a full and healthy squad to finish off the tour.
After playing another 5 games on Sunday in the group stage, we had done almost the opposite of our Saturday results. We never lost sight of the prize though, and found the strength to beat our rivals Saigon de Olympic in a game that would decide the final 2 teams. Immediately following, we took on a Bayon Wanderers team that had half of the country’s national team players. Hotshots played their hearts out and left everything on the pitch for this one, but it was not enough as the locals found a winner late in the half. Although we dominated the flow of the game, we were not able to slip one past to tie the score and it sadly ended with another local team taking the top spot.
Not to say anything bad about the format, but after playing 11 games in 2 days, we were tired and with no thanks to the referees making absolutely as few calls as possible, almost everyone was drained before we made it into the last game. This could have been fixed in advance with a format change, but most players thought that the additional playing time would be a good thing for the teams. As we found out, it looks like 11 games is a couple too many in that short of a time, in the sun. I think most found the free lunch to be worth what it cost, and with limited options for hydration and shade, almost everyone’s face probably looks something like a snake right now. In addition, the medics supplied were basically not paying attention to the action and a few accidents took much longer than needed to be resolved. They did however do a good job of patching people up so that is the most important part.
After the tournament on Sunday night the team once again met for another nice dinner and then many went onto find love in local establishments. Not sure who won the Golden Hooker award this time around but I have a feeling at least a couple people on the team might be at the doctor’s office today.
Congratulations to Viet, who appears to be about to marry his new girlfriend as she travels to Vietnam today!
Super job by Antoine in goal all weekend, without him we would not have been in the final.
Thanks to Kevin for arranging the tournament and bus, and all the hard work on and off the field!
The entire defensive team – for working like a unit this weekend, the support and talking was the best it has ever been!!!
Midfield – Everyone played hard here, people got back, moved the ball well, and most were smart about substituting each game for at least a bit to ensure we had the freshest people on the field.
Forwards – Really good to see everyone working to win every ball!!! Even though we did not break any records for goals scored, the effort you guys put in helped propel us to the final!!!
All – great overall effort to fight out way into the final, with a little more work in the off season we will be winning all our tournaments for next season!!!
PROUD TO CALL HOTSHOTS HOME!!!