Vikings Undefeated In Phuket International 7’s 2008

With the current unrest in Thailand coaches Mofok and Chris had to make some tough decisions together with the team last week… No flights available and the only alternative were for us to do the awful road trip down to Phuket (862 km one way!).    Some of the players (Chris, Breitner, Richard and Hallas) left Bangkok already Thursday evening and used not less than 6 modes of transportation to reach the island 21 hours later.. That is what I call commitment! Motorbike, BTS, minibus to Hua Hin, train to Surat Thani, public bus half way to Phuket (standing up) before giving up and reaching Phuket by taxi mid-day on Friday.
   The rest of the squad for Phuket including Mofok, Lars, Travis and Graeme (Martin V and Jörgen had to cancel last minute due to work) met up in Cha Am around 3pm on Friday afternoon to join the ride of their lives down to Phuket. Graeme moved his driver aside before even reaching Hua Hin and since that moment we didn’t drive slower than 130km/h at any point the next 600 km! Amazing, and the guys in the back were a bit pale after holding on for their lives and with their ears ringing from Graeme’s techno music.
   When asking Graeme to slow down the reply was: “Don’t worry guys, I am trained driver…” We reached Phuket around 11.30 pm, checked in quickly at Patong Cottage hotel and hit the bars in Patong were the other guys were waiting. A late night for some…
   We met again for breakfast at 8am Saturday morning and had our minibus picking us up at the hotel 8.30am for a 45 min ride to FIFA Tsunami Center close to Cape Panwa. Dick that lives on the island joined the team and we were ready to go. The tournament was played on nice 7-aside pitches and game time was 2 x 7 minutes.
   First game kicked-off at 10.21 against Hotel Travel (Phuket). Line up was Breitner in goal, Graeme and Richard in defense with Lars, Travis and Chris in midfield and Dick as a lone hunter up-front (no hunt in packs here…). Hallas and Mofok on the bench. A weak opponent and a nice and comfortable 3-0 win after goals from Greame, Chris and Hallas (penalty). After a two hour break we all believed that it was going to be an easy win over The Spartans (Singapore) too but we didn’t get our game going this time around. Mofok had a good shot from far outside the box that bounced in to 1-0, but in his eager to score more he ran in the wrong direction on kick-off and The Spartans scored the equalizer only seconds after… A lot of chasing in this game and 2-1 before a beautiful cross by T-Dog reached Lars, who aimed and aimed before hitting a beautiful volley, 2-2. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep it up and 3-2 came shortly after. Luckily enough Hallas was on his toes with a nice offensive run to score the final result 3-3 in the dying seconds of the game. With that result we had to win the last game of the day to win our group. A draw would mean second place in the group and facing a group winner in the first game on Sunday.
   A tired but pumped up Vikings took on Footy Japan (Japan). A tough fought game with a lot of chances both ways before Footy scored just before half time. A last push in second half led to an equalizer by Lars. We ended as second in the group and Vikings were ready for quarterfinals on Sunday. Some sad news for the team though, when captain Graeme was chasing down their fast number 11 in first half his old legs broke down once again. This time a sore hamstring put and ends to further participation in the tournament. Fact: Graeme’s 34 minutes of play equaled not less than 50km of traveling per minute played….
   The rest of the day was spent by the swimming pool with a few beers, dinner at Mofok’s/Dick’s restaurant in Karon and then some pub surfing in Patong with many of the local Swedish Phuket guys. A fun night and late for some… The 8am wake-up call by Chris led to minor arguments when some guys couldn’t believe that it was only 10 minutes to check-out and pick-up by minibus… Graeme had left us already Saturday night to go back to his family in Hua Hin, due to his hamstring injury.
   It was now time for quarterfinals against Shanghai Krauts (China). A German team that was so full of testosterone so we never seen anything like it. Still surprised by their behavior we managed to get our game going and created a few nice chances (nice shoot by Travis etc). The craziest guy in their team no. 7 got lucky in the end of first half and our one-eyed keeper Breitner couldn’t do much. But as always in this tournament Vikings fought back and the equalizer came on a nice corner kick from Dick were Chris put his head to it and forced it into the back of the net. 1-1 full time and no goals in the 5 min sudden death either. Penalty shoot-out with only 1 on 1’s. The Germans scored their first and now Lars had all the pressure on his shoulders… Steps up but slips slightly and misses the goal by a few inches. The Vikings were out and had to go into the Plate tournaments semi-finals instead.
   The semi-final gamed was played against Perth Select, a team of fast running young boys. We also had to play this game without substitutes since Dick got a red card in the game against the Germans. Nevertheless our physical football didn’t fit the young Aussie boys and we could have converted more then once on one of Hallas long goal kicks. Mofok had golden opportunity in the last minute of the game after a nice pass from Chris and a lovely decoy run by Travis, but the ball was saved on the goal line by a defender. A goalless draw at full time and no goals in sudden death led to a new penalty shoot. Breitner made a nice save to their first penalty and Hallas stepped up and made no mistake. Plate-final for the Scans.
   The final was played against a team we had a hard time playing against on Saturday, The Spartans. Once again it became an open affair with lots of ball possession for the Singaporeans. 5 minutes into first half, Lars takes the ball on the mid-line, penetrates into their half by passing two guys before putting the goal in the net by a great shot. 1-0 and the Vikings could feel that they were going for a win. The Spartans had other thoughts though and after some nice one touch play they snatched the equalizer in second half. Five draws in a row in full time for us… and a new penalty situation. Spartans score their first, Hallas makes no mistake with is penalty and Spartans scores also their second. Mofok steps up… and just like Roberto Baggio in World Cup 1994 he put to much power on the ball and it flies far over the crossbar. Second place in the Plate but at least some silver ware to bring back to Bangkok…
   All in all a great trip with lots of laughter and true commitment from the team. We were the only team from Bangkok that actually did the road trip when all others were canceling. Even though it took some of us 15 hours to reach Bangkok again at 5am Monday morning, it was all worth it. Thanks for a great trip guys!
   Man of the Tournament for Vikings: Hallas

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