Germany was crowned champions of the Standing Disabled Volleyball World Cup on Friday after beating Cambodia 3 sets to one. Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium was filled to the rafters and echoed with the cheers of about 5,000 spectators who turned out to support the home team.
The equally matched teams were fiercely competitive and demonstrated why they deserved to be in the final.
Germany won the first two sets 25-17 and 25-21. The crowd was jumping from their seats during the nerve-wracking finish of the third set, in which the teams were only one point apart until Cambodia won 28-26. The tense atmosphere continued throughout the fourth set, which saw the injury to star Cambodian player Sang Veasna, who had to be carried from the court.
After the final game, Cambodian player Ou Phalla said that the outcome of the match was disappointing.
“But we are happy to be the world number two,” he said.
Coach Hong Chaya said that Cambodia was badly affected by the injury of its best player Mr Veasna. Regardless, he was happy with his team’s effort.
“This is the first time in history that Cambodia has taken second place in the world,” he said.
The stadium was packed with a lively crowd, who waved flags and banners, with some spectators forced to stand in the exits.
Germany has a long history of being number one and won the last tournament in 2009. Cambodia came fourth in 2009 world cup and third in 2007.
German player Ocaf Hansel, who has a prosthetic right leg, said before the match that over the years Cambodia had become a tougher competitor.
In an earlier match on Friday the promising newcomer-team Sri Lanka took the bronze medal after a straight three set victory over Slovakia. Inexperienced Laos and the relative unknown Kazakhstan team both dropped out before the semifinals.
Christopher Minko, president of the Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled), said that the final was a historic moment not only for Cambodian disabled volleyball players, but the whole country.
“It shows that Cambodia can rise up and mix it with the best,” Mr Minko said.