The magnificent PNG Muruks have made it back to back Austhai Geophysical (ATG) Division 1 Asian Champs titles and are once again the envy of Asian football.
The Muruks frightening class and mosquito-fleet speed was on display when it mattered, as was their ability to manufacture opportunities out of nothing.
The ATG Division 1 may have been reduced back to four teams, but the standard was excellent as was the evenness amongst the sides, whereby there was vital importance on the outcome of every game played.
The AFL Indonesia Volcanoes were on the hunt for redemption and did just that in their opening game against the PNG Muruks, whilst the Vietnam Swans registered their first win back up in Division 1 company since 2016 against the Singapore Wombats.
The PNG Muruks got the better of the Vietnam Swans in their Round 2 clash sneaking home by a solitary goal, whilst the Indonesian Volcanoes were too strong for Singapore getting up by a couple of goals and change.
With the ATG tournament still widely open and Grand Final opportunities still on the line going into Round 3, the Singapore Wombats burst out of the blocks and were able to hold off the PNG Muruks to win their first match of the tournament, while the Indonesian Volcanoes coasted to an easy victory against the Vietnam Swans.
At the end of Round 3, the Indonesian Volcanoes (3-0) were undefeated, whilst percentage only separated the PNG Muruks (87.50), Vietnam Swans (70.37) and Singapore Wombats (64.15), who all went 1-2.
The Grand Final was a physical encounter played at break neck speed and was a case of each side trying to make the most of every opportunity whilst under sustained pressure. The Indonesian Volcanoes certainly had more than enough opportunities to win the game, but didn’t add the necessary scoreboard pressure when they had the ascendency. The PNG Muruks on the other hand, showed a bit more poise and class than their Indonesian counterparts and banged on a couple of goals when the game was on the line and that was ultimately the difference with the Muruks getting home by three points.
Big congratulations to coach Kevin Bull and his PNG Muruks chargers for going back to back in 2019 and 2022. The gap between the PNG Muruks and the peloton may be closing, but they still are the measuring stick on the biggest stage of Asian football.
To view all fixtures and final scores and ladder, click here.