It was with great enthusiasm and anxiety Bangkok Vikings in the beginning of April 2012 arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the annual Viking Cup. Viking Cup has been held every year at different locations in Asia for over twenty years. The prestigious tournament invites the Scandinavian Viking football teams from around Asia for three-day football frenzy. This year 11 teams participated, including reigning champions, Bangkok Vikings.
Just before the group stage draws, Chris Lundqvist, Assistant Coach to Bangkok Vikings met with Coach Johan Mofok. ”We enter the tournament with the ambition to win it. We won last year and we want to repeat that. Let’s just get an easy draw, and we’ll be cruising through to the semis,” Coach Johan Mofok said.
Half an hour later Coach Johan Mofok and Assistant Coach Chris Lundquist exchanged worried looks when the reigning champs were paired up with favorites Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in the group stages. Both coaches hurried out of the press lounge refusing to comment on the unlucky draw. There was not going to be any easy games this year.
Bangkok Vikings on Bumpy Ride
Friday marked the first day of football and Bangkok Vikings came out looking very confident – completely ripping Jakarta 1 apart; 5-0. The great start was followed by a narrow 1-0 win against Hong Kong, in a game Bangkok controlled from start to finish. The crowd was paying attention – the favorites had checked in.
The third game of the day proved to be a real test. Facing outsiders Kuala Lumpur (KL), Bangkok conceded a goal early in the game. This initiated fierce pressure on the KL goal – Bangkok desperately chased the equalizer. Shots were fired from all angles but KL defended with aplomb. In the last minute Danish star, Peter Sveistrup, picked up a pass from Gaute Gautestad. With speed and agility Peter rushed past the KL defenders who resorted to illegal means. The whistle was blown and Bangkok was awarded a penalty. Top scorer, Filip Lagerstedt, stepped up and smashed the ball into the top corner. 1-1 and the Bangkok Vikings were through to the semi-finals.
In the final game of the group stage the Bangkok boys had to overcome a strong Singapore team. Both teams were already through to the semis but that did not affect the game. In a tight affair Singapore claimed a 1-0 win finishing 1st ahead of Bangkok in 2nd.
At the press-conference Coach Lundquist oozed confidence:”We’re through and that’s alfa-omega. The team played very well and we’re definitely going through to the final. I’m not gonna lie, we’re much better than Jakarta 2. Now we’re going out for some beers”.
Final Destination – Singapore
The final day of the Viking Cup kicked off early Saturday morning. Despite suffering from fatigue and only a few hours of sleep spirits were high.
However, Jakarta 2 proved more of a challenge than anticipated. In a tight affair both teams fought for every inch of the muddy pitch. First half finished scoreless and the coaches feared penalties were on the line. In the last minutes of the second half the speedy striker Sivapol found Gaute Gautestad with a wonderful pass. The Norwegian pilot did not hesitate and slammed the ball home – Bangkok was on the verge of another final. In the final minutes of the game Jakarta 2 put heavy pressure on the Bangkok goal. Several super saves from Finnish keeper Juuso Heikurainen earned Bangkok a hard fought victory.
Coach Mofok was jubilant after the game: “We really deserved this one. We’re getting the title for sure”. When questioned why he did not see much playing time Mofok replied: “well I’m getting old and I’m slow. So I’ll just leave it up to the youngsters to bring this one home”. Judging from his fitness I nodded in agreement.
In the second semifinal Singapore beat Shanghai 1-2. The Bangkok boys once again faced their Singaporean nemesis.
Tension was high when the players lined up for the final. It was obvious this one would be a tough match for everyone. Singapore started the game off looking confident on the ball gaining them a small advantage in ball possession. After a couple of warning shots things started to heat up around the Bangkok goal. On several occasions keeper Juuso had to come up with fine saves to keep the score line. After 25 minutes he could not deny Singapore any longer. Singapore’s quick attacker received a deep pass, sprinted from the defense and scored with ease. This was a blow for the Bangkok team who relied on counter attacks and their sturdy defense. Instead they now had to mobilize all available offensive firepower.
The rest of the game was one-way traffic towards the Singapore goal. Despite creating great opportunities Bangkok failed to score. In the final minutes Singapore closed the game on a breakaway. 2-0. A tough loss but Singapore were deserved winners of Viking Cup 2012.
The great event ended with a Gala Dinner. Dressed as Muay Thai fighters the Bangkok team headed into the night singing the Swedish chant, Den sista Mohikanen– already preparing for next year’s Viking Cup in Kuala Lumpur.