PHUKET: The Phuket Fair Play League 2012 reached a dramatic conclusion to the season at Youth Football Home (YFH) in Thalang after eight weeks of competitive matches.
Players in U14 and U11 divisions from all over the island showed skill and sportsmanship throughout this latest season proving the value and title of this competition.
As with all hotly contested tournaments, the U14 champions would be decided on the final day as the fixtures matched the top two teams in a battle for the title. Germany Green had to win or draw against France to guarantee them the gold medal. But a France victory would see them overtake their German rivals to claim the title.
In a one-sided first half, France, led by the division’s top scorer Dep, took a 4-0 lead into the break and it looked as if France would run away with the match when they scored their fifth goal just after the restart. But Germany Green staged a stunning comeback scoring four times without reply to get within a goal and a point they needed for the title.
With seconds remaining, Germany broke through the French back line to score the equalizer and claim the gold medal in the most dramatic of circumstances. Their fairytale ending sent players and supporters into euphoric celebrations. France v Germany Green: 5-5.
In a tight second match, Brazil played a good counter-attacking game to beat Thailand and replace their opponents as the third placed team. Thailand v Brazil; 2-3.
The final match saw Germany White look to finish on a high note by beating a strong Argentina team. But it was not to be however, and in a high scoring game they were foiled by just one goal. Argentina v Germany White 7-6.
The U11 Division was as equally exciting on the final day. After the first match Germany Green took a provisional lead in the league following a fine 5-1 victory over France.
That result meant that Brazil required a victory in the final match against Thailand to reclaim top spot and the title.
Brazil started nervously and although they did not look like conceding goals, they certainly lacked confidence in attacking Thailand’s goal.
With no goals for either team by the end of the first-half, it looked as if a upset was on the cards. But a constructive team talk by the Brazil coach seemed to inspire his charges as they pressurized Thailand from the word go at the start of the second-half.
Relief was evident when Brazil eventually opened their account to take the lead midway through the second half. This changed to joy when they extended their lead with just minutes remaining to secure the victory and claim the title as U11 champions.
The final game saw a battle for the bronze medal position as Germany White and Argentina faced off. Both teams started the match on equal points with the German team holding an advantage due to a greater goal difference.
Argentina started the stronger and raced into a 3-1 lead with the division’s lead scorer Joe Hunter grabbing a hat-trick before the break. But, the second half proved a different story as Germany White found form and scored two unanswered goals bring the scores level.
The turning point came when Germany White gave away a penalty in the last five minutes. A well struck shot looked destined for the corner of the goal, but a magnificent fingertip save by the German keeper diverted the ball onto the post. Lifted by this good fortune, Germany White found an extra gear and with one minute remaining scored the winner to claim third place in another suspenseful finish to the day’s action.
Organizers of the FPL offered their gratitude and appreciation for the venues used during the season which included Quality Schools International, Headstart, British International School, YFH and Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club.
“The FPL would be unable to run without the support of our banner sponsors as well as out kit sponsors Tawan Sea Adventures and The Yorkshire Inn Hotel and Spa,” said Martin Hill.
“Thanks to all the coaches, parents and especially the players for helping to make this year the biggest and the best season of the Fair Play League so far,” added Martin.
For information on the FPL contact BSS@Thanyapura.co.th.
— Neil Quail
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