The Shinboner, Natty Payne, reports on the match between the Vietnam Swans Reds team and the Cambodian Eagles.

Nat Payne is the Shinboner. Nat Payne is the original All Asian. Today, Nat provides an in depth game analysis on Game 4 of the 2012 Indochina Cup played between the Vietnam Swans Reds (“A”) team and the Cambodian Eagles.

Also, sentimental at having just played his last tournament/match for the Swannies as a resident of Vietnam, Nat gives Fabbo more mentions in a match report than he has received in the last three seasons combined.

Having dispatched of the unknown quantity that was the combined Laos/Thai Elephant/Tigers (a scary crossbreed if you ran into one in the jungle), the Vietnam Swans were to face the Cambodian Eagles in what could have been considered the ‘unofficial’ grand final.  Mentally scarred from two losses to the Eagles this year the Swans had a score to settle.  Whilst not yet a gorilla, the weight of defeats were taking their toll, becoming a middleweight primate on the back of the Swans and they were determined to remove it.

A physical arm wrestle from the very beginning, space with the ball was difficult to come by, but it was the Swans who made the early break with a goal to Dave “SOS” Skowronsky (check spelling Fabbo).  The midfield battle was clearly being won by the Swans early through relentless pressure and numbers around the ball.  Clearances were being won and the spread from the likes of Brett Jotta and Adrian Enright were giving the Swans’ forwards silver service.

Big Edoardo ‘Edo’ (surname here, Fabbo) was putting in a Mike Pike like performance in the ruck against Cambodia’s star big man, Parrot.  Playing more like a Harley Davidson than a Piaggio, Edo had taken the step from a basketballer learning the game to a dominant contributor in the centre square.  Not satisfied with nullifying Parrot in the hit outs, Edo was dominating the clearances, following up with handballs to Luke “Dukes” Creamer, Davey “Sing us another song, Revo” O’Shea and Angus “In Gus We Trust” McEwin.  Gus’ luck had changed and South Australia’s finest (SA Great) was displaying the kind of form that made him one of the most feared competitors in Asian football.

When the Billy Crang found this abandoned brief case at Hanoi airport on Sunday evening, he promptly shifted it back to a safe distance of four rows. Ever reliable.

When the Eagles did go forward, they looked to go through their main avenue to goal, Jye (Ed’s note, you should have checked spelling with Fabbo).  Worried about his dominant display in Cambodia’s first match, Vietnam turned to the ever reliable Billy Crang.  This sounds like an oxymoron, but there is one place Cranger can be depended on and that is on the footy field.  Add the “Cambodia factor” to that equation and you have an uncompromising beast who simply refuses to be beaten.  Billy set the scene with Cambodia’s first inside 50 when he killed the ball over the boundary line.

Cambodia scrapped together two first half goals in a row. One from a goal kicked from a tight angle after a free kick and another with a freakish snap from Murph.  By the half, the Eagles weren’t exactly breathing down the throats of the Swans, but Vietnam were getting a waft of what they had eaten for breakfast.

The half time message was simple enough.  Continue playing with the same intensity and the Swans go back to back to back in the Indochina Cup.  Normally a strict conservationist, Dukes wanted his team to keep its foot on the Eagles’ throat.

In the second half, Vietnam continued their team orientated performance.  Cambodia had difficulty getting the ball out of their back half and when they did it was quickly sent back in by new recruit Justin (surname thanks, Fabbo), Dan ‘”formerly Crazy” Hopkins and hard as a cat’s head, Heath Ellis.  Down forward Ryan ‘Revo’ Evans was drawing players out of the fifty arc and creating space for SOS to lead and mark.  Kevvy Hornblower was getting in on the act and it looked like the Swans’ forward line was functioning better than it had in years.

Edo’s chopper was running a little low on gas and he needed a refill.  Vietnam’s other Mr Reliable, Damo Judd switched into the ruck and picked up where Edo left.

By this stage, Cambodia was willing the motorbike horn/siren to sound.  The Eagles had come to Hanoi to put their stamp on Indochina footy by beating the champs in their own nest.  With their wings clipped the Eagles have a year to prepare for the rematch back in Phnom Penh.

At the end of the game a sense of satisfaction and relief swept over the Vietnam Swans. Satisfied with completing arguably Vietnam’s best year on field and relieved to be rid of that Cambodian monkey.

(Ed’s note: Fabbo has kindly corrected spelling and provided names where there were none. They are: Dave “SOS” Skowronski, Edoardo Davide, Jhie and Justin Vitech. Many thanks, Fabbo.)