Sunday, August 31, 2014

Photo-call

LtoR, back row: Srin, Ngwa, Obadin, Bisan, Boris, Pheng. Middle row: Da, Makara, Ary, Yaty, Soksela, Pisa, Dara. Front row:  Sothy, Borey, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Morslim, Sokheng, Suhana - click to enlarge
The Phnom Penh Crown first team assembled at RSN Stadium for a photo session this morning. Despite the RSN stadium resembling a building site with work taking place on both the training pitch and in building the new stadium alongside it, the team posed for the camera in their usual red strip as well as new training kit from sponsors liga365.com. Missing from the photo-call were Adriano Pellegrino and Koen Bosma, not yet back from their homeland countries.
The PPCFC squad in a new training kit from liga365.com, with president Rithy Samnang and coach Sam Schweingruber in the front row - click to enlarge

Photographer Masayori Ishikawa testing a team photo venue at RSN

Two games, two wins

PPCFC U-15s, back row, LtoR: Rafat, Sovannaroth, Chanmony, Panha, Sophara, Savey. Front: N David, Kakada, Chetra, S David, Piseth - click to enlarge

The Phnom Penh Crown Academy teams, at U-15 and U-17, took on the Rachana FC teams from Prek Kdam this morning at the BBU playing field in back-to-back friendly matches. The U-15s went first, recording a 4-1 success with Sin Kakada opening the scoring on 9 minutes before Mao Piseth waded in with a hat-trick of goals on 22, 42 and 44 minutes. The sides played two 35-minute halves. There were debuts for three new permanent faces in the Academy, having just arrived from Battambang, namely Chea Savey, Kie Rina and Vuth Sophara.

The U-17s then met an older Rachana team and found them harder to break down than the last time the two sides met, when Crown won 11-0. In fact only an Ouk Sovann penalty on 10 minutes, for a foul on In Sodavid, separated the sides at the interval. Though Chhuot Senteang will rue the five good chances he failed to register with. After the break, Sodavid netted a fine individual goal on 54 minutes, and Yeu Muslim tapped home after Vat Samnang's free-kick was spilled on 59 minutes. Two minutes later Mat Noron kept his feet to finish off a Sodavid pass, and on 69 minutes he measured his lob correctly after Orn Chanpolin found him with a lovely chipped pass. The final score was Crown Academy U-17s 5 Rachana FC 1.
PPCFC U-17s: Chanvuthy (S Samnang 46), Sovann (Phearath 46), Chhaya (Chansopheak 46), Titchhy (Sovann 76), V Samnang, Chanpolin, Sodavid (Rozak 74), Rozak (Piphop 46), Sakrovy (Noron 38), Ponvuthy (Senteang 74), Senteang (Muslim 46). Goals: Sovann ( 10 pen), Sodavid (54), Muslim (59), Noron 2 (61, 69).
PPCFC U-17s, 2nd half starters, back row, LtoR: Chanpolin, Sodavid, Noron, V Samnang, Titchhy, S Samnang. Front: Muslim, Chansopheak, Piphop, Ponvuthy, Phearath - click to enlarge

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Crown invited to join

The formal invitation to PPCFC
Phnom Penh Crown were officially invited to join the upcoming Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2014 at a ceremony at the Olympic Stadium this afternoon. Hao Tien, the Vice President of Toyota Motors joined with Crown President Rithy Samnang and FFC General Secretary Kul Sophana to mark the invitation for the tournament that will be held in Ho Chi Minh City with the champions of 4 Mekong countries - Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. It promises to be an intriguing tournament, the first of its kind, from 31 Oct-2 Nov. Word on the terraces is that the Vietnamese champions, Becamex Binh Duong have been drawn against Crown in the semi-final. The winning team will receive prize money of $75,000 with the runners-up receiving $50,000, third place $30,000 and 4th place $10,000. Joining the officials at the ceremony were Crown stars Kouch Sokumpheak and Bin Thierry, taking time off their national team duties, and head coach Sam Schweingruber.

Laos look to Booth

Former PPCFC coach David Booth, now in charge of Laos again
Former Phnom Penh Crown head coach David Booth has been handed the task, for a second time, to coach the Laos national team, for the remainder of this year. Laos will be the hosts of the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying competition in October and will be looking to Booth's vast experience in these situations, to steer them into the final stages. He did just that for Laos back in 2010. His first game will be against Cambodia on 12 October and promises to be an intriguing contest, as he will come face to face with a few of his former Crown players. Booth was the coach of Lao Toyota for most of the season just completed, where they finished second. He will be in charge of the club side next season too. Let's not forget it was the British-born coach who won the Cambodian Championship with Crown in 2011 and came so close to winning the AFC President's Cup, losing the final in Taiwan. He was previously in charge of the national teams of Brunei, Myanmar and Laos, before spells at Sisaket, Crown, Salgaocar and Lao Toyota.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suzuki squad

The Korean coach of the Cambodia national team, Lee Tae-Hoon, with his main target this year of being one of two teams to qualify from the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament in Laos between 12-20 October, has named an initial squad of thirty players to begin training this week. That squad will be whittled down to 25 and then just twenty players will make the trip to Vientiane. Reports suggest that a training camp in Korea has been shelved in favour of one in Vietnam and that the team will play some international friendlies leading up to the qualifiers. I'll believe that when I see it. Optimism was initially raised by the recent performances of the Cambodia U-21 team in an invitational tournament in Brunei, though that disappeared when the team were soundly beaten by the Vietnamese U-19s in their final match. So it's now up to Lee to raise the spirits again for the matches in October against Laos (12/10), Timor Leste (16/10), Myanmar (18/10) and Brunei (20/10). Lee's record in competitive games since he took over the national team, which was initially in August 2010 for 22 months before he returned for a second stint in August of last year, is 7 wins in 33 games, which includes three victories recently in Brunei. Draw your own conclusions from that record. Of the thirty players he's collected together this week, I'll take a stab at who I think he will choose to be his final 20, perhaps with the addition of Chhunly Pagenburg, who's playing Germany at the moment, if he can be persuaded to join the tournament. I reiterate, these are Lee's choices, not mine: Yaty, Vichet, Pancharong, Samoeun, Sovan, Sovannrithy, Boris, Pheng, Khemarin, Piseth, Sothearath, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Suhana, Phallin, Chhoeun, Udom, Laboravy, Vathanaka, Soksana.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Academy crowned as champs

Crown Academy crowned champions
Captain Seut Baraing lifts the Yamaha Challenge International Tournament trophy as Phnom Penh Crown’s U-15 Academy team were crowned the winners of the first-ever six-team international friendly competition.  The Academy won four of their five matches over the three days of games held at the FFC’s Tonle Bati headquarters. The GIFU Select team from Japan were runners-up, on the same points as Crown but with a far inferior goal difference, with the FFC’s own Academy team coming in third place.
The Crown results were as follows - full match reports to follow:
The Academy defeated the FFC Academy comprehensively in Friday’s opening match of the Yamaha Challenge Tournament at Tonle Bati. PPCFC ran out 6-0 winners with Kim Chhaya getting a hat-trick (26, 31, 47 mins) and a goal each for Mao Piseth (14), captain Seut Baraing (30) and substitute Suon Noeut (55).
Mao Piseth struck 4 times as the Crown U-15 Academy team put the Global Football Academy from Singapore, who are all Japanese players, to the sword, winning 8-1 in Saturday morning’s Yamaha Challenge game. Piseth scored after 1, 17, 30 and 46 minutes. Sin Kakada scored a penalty on 20 mins and Kim Chhaya fired in his goal with fifty seconds on the clock at the start of the 2nd period. Sok Panha and Suon Noeut wrapped it up late on.
The Saturday afternoon Yamaha Challenge game for the U-15 Academy team was a much closer affair than their previous two victories. The GIFU Select team from Japan are in Cambodia on training camp and had won their earlier 2 matches as well. Crown had the better chances in the first-half but there were no goals. Svang Samnang saved well with his feet early in the 2nd half and then tipped over a free-kick later on. In between Suon Noeut, Seut Baraing and Kim Chhaya went close. With 3 minutes to go, Men Piphop crossed, Sin Kakada headed it goalwards and it took a deflection on its way in. GIFU refused to lie-down and hit the bar, before equalizing with a minute left on the clock. In stoppage time Noeut curled a shot against the post and then saw a certain goal saved on the line by a retreating defender. 1-1 was the final result leaving all to play for tomorrow.
The first match for the U-15 Academy team on Sunday morning was against Civil Aviation. Crown started off like a train and were 2 goals ahead in five minutes through Suon Noeut and Choun Chanchav. Four minutes later and CCSA were down to 10 when Soun Sopheaktra was dismissed for two yellow cards. Moments before the break, Noeut was fouled and scored from the penalty kick. Noeut completed his hat-trick 8 minutes after the restart before Kim Chhaya crashed home a 25-yard piledriver. Two goals from Mao Piseth completed the rout.
Crown needed to win to make sure of collecting the Yamaha trophy and they did just that with a great comeback after Svay Rieng took a 4th minute lead. SVR had their keeper Samnang Devid to thank for keeping them ahead, as he saved Kim Chhaya’s penalty seconds before the interval and continued to thwart Crown after the break. On 42 minutes Mao Piseth, the tournament’s top scorer with 7 goals, headed Crown level and Chhaya put them in the lead with a 30 yard free-kick that sailed over the keeper with 4 minutes to go. Captain Seut Baraing made sure of the victory with another 30-yard free-kick that bounced over the keeper to give the PPCFC U-15 Academy team the first-ever Yamaha trophy.

Svay Rieng finished off

PPCFC v SVR, back row, LtoR: Samnang, Sovannaroth, Chanchav, Chhaya, Noeut, Baraing. Front: Chanmony, Chetra, Piseth, S David, Rozak - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC U-15s 3 Svay Rieng 1 (Yamaha Challenge).
Crown's U-15 Academy boys needed to win to make sure of collecting the Yamaha Challenge trophy and they did just that with a great comeback after Svay Rieng took a 4th minute lead. SVR had their keeper Samnang Devid to thank for keeping them ahead, as he saved Kim Chhaya's penalty seconds before the interval and continued to thwart Crown after the break. On 42 minutes Mao Piseth, the tournament's top scorer with 7 goals, headed Crown level and Chhaya put them in the lead with a 30 yard free-kick that sailed over the keeper with 4 minutes to go. Captain Seut Baraing made sure of the victory with another 30-yard free-kick that bounced over the keeper to earn the Crown U-15 Academy team the first-ever Yamaha trophy. More to follow.

Aviation downed

PPCFC v Civil, back row, LtoR: Samnang, Sovannaroth, Chanchav, Chhaya, Noeut, Baraing. Front: Chanmony, S David, Piseth, Chetra, Rozak - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC U-15s 7 Civil Aviation 0 (Yamaha Challenge).
The first match for the Crown U-15 Academy team this morning in the Yamaha Challenge Tournament Day 3 was against Civil Aviation. Crown started off like a train and were 2 goals ahead in five minutes through Suon Noeut and Choun Chanchav. Four minutes later and CCSA were down to 10 when Soun Sopheaktra was dismissed for two yellow cards. Moments before the break, Noeut was fouled and scored from the penalty kick. Noeut completed his hat-trick 8 minutes after the restart before Kim Chhaya crashed home a 25-yard piledriver. Two goals from Mao Piseth completed the rout. More to follow.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Close affair

PPCFC v GIFU, back row, LtoR: Samnang, Safy, Chanchav, Chhaya, Baraing. Front: Piphop, Chanmony, Chetra, Piseth, Noeut, Rozak - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC U-15s 1 GIFU Select Japan 1 (Yamaha Challenge).
The afternoon Yamaha Challenge game for the Crown U-15 Academy team was a much closer affair than their previous two victories. The GIFU Select team from Japan are in Cambodia on training camp and had won their earlier 2 matches as well. Crown had the better chances in the first-half but there were no goals. Svang Samnang saved well with his feet early in the 2nd half and then tipped over a free-kick later on. In between Suon Noeut, Seut Baraing and Kim Chhaya went close. With 3 minutes to go, Men Piphop crossed, Sin Kakada headed it goalwards and it took a deflection on its way in. GIFU refused to lie-down and hit the bar, before equalizing with a minute left on the clock. In stoppage time Noeut curled a shot against the post and then saw a certain goal saved on the line by a retreating defender. 1-1 was the final result leaving all to play for tomorrow. In the other games, FFC defeated GFA 3-0 and Civil Service beat Svay Rieng 3-0. More to follow.

Another eight for Academy

PPCFC v GFA, back row, LtoR; Samnang, Rozak, Chanchav, Chhaya, Safy, Baraing. Front: Chanmony, Piphop, Piseth, Kakada, Chetra - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC U-15s 8 GFA Singapore 1 (Yamaha Challenge).
Carrying on where they left off the previous day, after defeating the FFC Academy 6-0, the Crown youngsters took the game to the Japanese boys from the Global Football Academy in Singapore and opened the scoring in the first minute. Mao Piseth tapped in from close range from Kim Chhaya's cross. Chhaya lobbed a shot onto the crossbar before Piseth added his second on 17 minutes, taking a pass from Sin Kakada in his stride and working the space to role his shot inside the far corner. Three minutes later Sath Rozak was felled in the area and Kakada put the penalty kick into the corner. On the stroke of half-time, Seut Baraing's long ball sent Piseth away and he rounded the goalkeeper to net a first-half hat-trick. Within fifty seconds of the restart, Chhaya fired in from the edge of the box after a cross was cleared straight to him. GFA pulled a goal back on 40 minutes as Crown rang the changes and missed some good chances. On 46 minutes Lim Pisoth weaved his way past three players and though his shot was saved, Piseth followed up to stroke the ball home for his fourth. Three minutes from time - each half was thirty minutes duration - Suon Noeut put in Sok Panha and his near post shot crept inside the upright. In stoppage time, Piseth set up Noeut and he made no mistake firing past the keeper. Two games and two victories for Crown in the Yamaha Challenge International tournament.
PPCFC v GFA: Samnang (Rafat 37), Chanmony (Panha 42), Chetra, Safy (Sovannaroth 37), Baraing, Rozak (Pisoth 42), Chanchav, Piphop (S David 42), Kakada (Samel 51), Chhaya (Noeut 37), Piseth. MOTM: Piseth. Goals: Piseth 4 (1, 17, 30, 46), Kakada pen (20), Chhaya (31), Panha (57), Noeut (60+2).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Six goals without reply

PPCFC U-15s, LtoR: Samnang, Safy, Sovannaroth, Chanchav, Chhaya, Baraing (capt). Front: Chanmony, S David, Piseth, Kakada, Rozak - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC U-15s 6 FFC Academy 0 (Yamaha Challenge).
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy team got their Yamaha Challenge International Tournament competition off to the best possible start with a crushing 6-0 win over the Cambodia Federation's own Academy team this afternoon at the Tonle Bati HQ. Tomorrow, Crown face the two overseas teams from Japan and Singapore. Coach Bouy Dary selected a combination of first-generation Academy players and some of the second intake and they combined well to lead by three goals at the break. Mao Piseth opened the floodgates on14 minutes with Kim Chhaya adding a second on 26 minutes and captain Seut Baraing making it three just before the break. The matches are 11-a-side but of thirty minutes duration for each half. A minute after the restart and Chhaya scored his second and then completed his hat-trick on 47 minutes. Substitute Suon Noeut, who has been unwell in recent weeks, came on and scored the sixth goal on 55 minutes to complete the rout.
PPCFC v FFC: Samnang, Chanmony, Sovannaroth, Safy, Baraing, Chanchav, Rozak, S David, Kakada, Chhaya, Piseth. Subs: Rafat, Pisoth, Piphop, Noeut, N David, Panha, Samel, Chetra. Goals: Chhaya 3 (26, 31, 47), Piseth (14), Baraing (30), Noeut (55).
The other results were; Svay Rieng 1 GIFU Japan 3 and Civil Aviation 6 GFA Singapore 0.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Albirex too strong

U-17s v Albvirex, back row, LtoR: Titchhy, Chanchav, Senteang, Sodavid, Sakrovy, Chanvuthy. Front: Rozak, Ponvuthy, Baraing, Phearath, Sovann - click to enlarge

The Phnom Penh Crown U-17 Academy team suffered a rare defeat this afternoon at the hands of Albirex Niigata, losing 4-0. The practice game was played at a bumpy Navy field and with Albirex showcasing a number of new faces ahead of their C-League play-off matches, they were in better shape than the Academy who've only just returned to training and were without a few regulars. Amongst a half a dozen new faces with Albirex were the recently-departed Neou Sosela, part of the Championship-winning Crown squad, as well as Naga's San Narith and Western's Men Seyha, who also played with PPCFC in the past. The Academy were missing injured regulars Orn Chanpolin, Suon Noeut, Kim Chhaya and Men Piphop. Albirex opened the scoring on five minutes, though Chhuot Senteang will wonder how Mat Muslim in the Albirex goal kept the scoreline at 1-0 at the interval with a point-blank save midway through the first half. Former Crown winger Neou Sosela extended the lead ten minutes after the break before Yusuke Ueda netted two more for the Japanese-run team. Crown went close through a Vat Samnang free-kick, and Long Phearath and Pov Ponvuthy who had shots saved but could find no way back for a rare defeat. The Academy are looking ahead to the start of the Cambodia Youth League next month, though a few of the players will also take part in the Yamaha Challenge tournament beginning tomorrow.
PPCFC U-17s v Albirex: Chanvuthy (Samnang 58), Sovann, Phearath (V Samnang 23), Baraing (Senteang 68), Titchhy (Phearath 46), Chanchav (Rozak 67), Sodavid, Rozak (Noron 46), Sakrovy, Ponvuthy, Senteang (Muslim 53).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PVF will meet Harimau Muda

The Asia U-16 Champions Trophy finalists have been decided after the two-legged semi-finals. Rather surprisingly last years champions, Chonburi Academy from Thailand are out, beaten 6-1 over two legs by Harimau Muda U-16s, the national youth team of Malaysia, who did the unexpected and won 3-0 in the second leg in Thailand. In the other semi-final, Frenz Malaysia found PVF from Vietnam in great form, winning their home leg 3-0 in Ho Chi Minh and then grabbing a late goal to win 1-0 in Malaysia. The two legs of the Final will be played on 25 and 31 August with PVF getting home advantage in the first leg. The Phnom Penh Crown Academy finished a creditable 3rd in the Group B standings, well behind both Chonburi and Frenz Malaysia, in a six-team group.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bubble burst

Cambodia went down 3-0 to Vietnam. Pic courtesy Lim Vandy
The bubble burst in the final group game of Cambodia U-21s Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei this evening. Three victories and a single defeat had given Cambodia a chance to progress to the semis if they could beat Vietnam's highly-rated U-19 team. They couldn't. They went down 3-0. And their dreams were shattered. More precisely, the hopes of their fans were left in tatters, after the expectation had risen to serious levels on social media. It didn't look promising when the coach Lee Tae-Hoon's team selection was announced with captain Kouch Sokumpheak and Sos Suhana on the bench (tiredness was the reason for their exclusion), though Ngoy Srin and Thourng Da both returned after suspension. And promising it wasn't as Vietnam looked only marginally better in the opening half but took their chances to lead 2-0 with goals on the half-hour and with the final kick of the first-half. Both goals were scored by Ho Tuan Tai. They dominated the second period with Um Vichet forced to rescue his side on a few occasions, before Vietnam wrapped it up with ten minutes to go with Phan Van Long netting. 3-0 the final score. Vietnam would always be the toughest of the opposition, and so it proved. Cambodia now come home, with three wins and two defeats under their belts, financially better off after gifts from the FFC, BIDC and the Sultan, but with a sour taste in the mouth of many of their fans after promising so much, only to fail at the final hurdle. Cambodia v Vietnam: Vichet, Da, Samoeun, Sovan, Daravorn, Srin, Soksana, Pisor, Chhoeun, Udom, Borey.  Subs: Phearun, Sokumpheak, Suhana, Phallin, Vathanaka, Ravy, Tola.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Academy net 11

Academy v Rachana, back row, LtoR: Chanvuthy, Titchhy, Sovann, Sodavid, Chanpolin, Rozak. Front: Baraing, Senteang, Ponvuthy, Nuron, Phearath - click to enlarge
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy were back in action Sunday afternoon at RSN. Their visitors were the Rachana team from Prek Kdam, who were older and unbeaten according to their manager. That was about to change as the Academy ran out 11-0 victors. Crown are getting ready for the upcoming Youth League which begins next month with U-15 and U-17 competitions. It took just seven minutes for Sath Rozak to open the scoring, lobbing the keeper from Orn Chanpolin's pass. Ouk Sovann was finding lots of room at right-back and he slotted in the next, on 20 minutes from Mat Nuron's pass. The home team were creating chances at will and on the half hour, Chhuot Senteang tapped in from Pov Ponvuthy's center. A Senteang breakaway, a Chanpolin pass and In Sodavid drilled the ball in off the upright two minutes later. Within a minute Sovann grabbed his second, with a neat finish from Chanpolin's through ball. With their next attack, the Academy made is six at the break as Ponvuthy set up Senteang and his chip was inch perfect. Four minutes after the restart, Seut Baraing's venture down the left flank set up Senteang for his hat-trick, with a simple tap in. Yeu Muslim set up Nuron for a clinical finish from an angle, ten minutes in. Ten minutes later, Chanpolin netted with a clean strike from Long Phearath's pass. Coach Bouy Dary made changes before Mao Piseth gave Sraing Titchhy the space to fire home from 20 yards. Chanpolin rounded off the 11-0 victory with a shot from outside the box that crept through the keeper's legs. 
Academy v Rachana: Chanvuthy, Sovann, Phearath (Sakrovy 79), Titchhy, Baraing (Chanchav 49), Chanpolin, Sodavid, Rozak (Sakrovy 29 (Muslim 49)), Ponvuthy (V Samnang 70), Nuron (Piseth 72), Senteang. MOTM: Chanpolin. Goals: Rozak (7), Sovann 2 (20, 34), Senteang 3 (31, 35, 49), Sodavid (33), Nuron (54), Chanpolin 2 (65, 83), Titchhy (82).
The two teams together before kick-off

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sokumpheak's goal is decisive

Cambodia v Indonesia, back row, LtoR: Samoeun, Udom, Vathanaka, Tola, Vichet, Sovan. Front: Phallin, Daravorn, Suhana, Pidor, Sokumpheak [pic Lim Vandy]
The Cambodian U-21s kept their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive with their third win in four Group B matches in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei this afternoon. Up against the Indonesia U-19s, they weathered an early scare to lead by half-time and to hold onto their advantage, winning 2-1 at the final whistle. A victory in their final match against Vietnam on Monday evening would see them move into the semi-final stages of the competition. With Ngoy Srin and Thourng Da out through suspension, Sos Suhana was called into partner captain Kouch Sokumpheak in the middle of midfield. Goalkeeper Um Vichet made an early stop as Indonesia began brightly but it was Prak Mony Udom who went closest, smashing a shot against the foot of the upright on 15 minutes. Sokumpheak got the faintest of touches with his head to force a corner and moments later, Hoy Phallin's cross flicked off the head of Sok Sovan and crept into the corner on 22 minutes. Udom saw his free-kick tipped over the top but Indonesia were back in the game four minutes before the break. Cambodia failed to clear their lines and Vichet was beaten by a lob and as it rebounded off the cross-bar, Dimas had the easy task of nodding it into an empty net. Not to be denied, a minute before the break captain Sokumpheak was in the box to meet Udom's cross and got a lucky break as a defender's attempted cut-out caught him on the thigh and bounced over the goal-line. Cambodia were 2-1 ahead at the break. Indonesia missed a glorious chance early after the restart but that was it as far as chances were concerned, with play bogged down in midfield and Indonesia simply not good enough to break down the Cambodian defensive unit. An injury to Vichet when he hit his head on the ground, added six minutes of stoppage time, but they were never in danger as Cambodia claimed their third victory of the tournament.
Cambodia v Indonesia: Vichet, Samouen, Pidor, Sovan, Daravorn, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Soksana 58), Phallin, Udom, Vathanaka (Ravy 69), Tola (Borey 58). Subs not used: Phearun, Chhoeun.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sam on the Mekong Cup

Sam Schweingruber - by Masayori Ishikawa
A brand new competition, the Toyota Mekong Club Championship is a reward for Phnom Penh Crown's Cambodian League Championship success. It's a 4-team tournament which will be held for the first time, in Vietnam, between 31 October and 2 November 2014. Toyota have put together the Champions of 4 countries - Vietnam (Becamex Binh Duong), Cambodia (Phnom Penh Crown), Laos (HAGL Attapeu) and Myanmar (still to be decided) - to organise this exciting competition, to find the best club team in the Mekong region. The venue has recently been switched to Ho Chi Minh City, with teams eligible to have 4 foreign players in their 18-man squad. There will be semi-final matches, then a 3rd/4th place play-off before the grand final. Its expected the matches will be screened live on TV in all four countries and the winning team will take home a cash prize of $75,000. The competition's Most Valuable Player will receive $15,000. Now that's prizemoney that is well worth winning. 
 
Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber is in China, but found time to offer up his thoughts about this new competition. "We are proud to be the first Cambodian team to be representing the country in the newly formed competition - the Mekong Cup. Obviously this is a huge opportunity for us to gain experience playing against champions of neighboring countries and we are looking forward to learning more about our opponents and other details, like the cup regulations. In preparation for the new season the Mekong Cup is coming a bit early. In preparation for the tournament, we will be for most of the time without at least 7 players that train with the National Team - so we will only be getting back together 10 days before departure, and will have to try to get everybody on the same page, especially new players like Koen. We hope to be playing some more international matches closer to the start of the new season and are preparing a tour, but details are not yet confirmed. Looking at the disappointing position Cambodia takes in the FIFA World Rankings (201st) we are aware that playing outside Cambodia pretty much always means we are the underdogs. But this will be the only way for us to try close the gap by playing against better teams." 
More information on the new competition can be found on its website @ http://toyotamekongfootball.com/

Meanwhile, Crown have decided not to renew the contract of speedy winger Neou Sosela after one season with the club. Sosela's appearances were limited during the team's Championship-winning campaign that has just ended and head coach Sam Schweingruber has decided that it's best for both parties if the former Army and National Police speedster seeks first-team opportunities elsewhere. Albirex looks like the former Cambodia U-23's next destination.

Bosma flies in

Koen Bosma signs on the dotted line
Phnom Penh Crown have signed Dutch attacking midfielder Koen Bosma, as one of their foreign players for next season. Koen, who will be 24 next month, enjoyed a successful trial with Crown in July, including three goals in a practice match with TriAsia, and is keen to make his mark at the club. "Joining PPCFC is a perfect move for me. Right from the start Sam gave me a good feeling about Cambodia and the club and all the guys were really nice - it just felt so comfortable. I have high expectations and the fans can expect goals and assists from me. I am a player who loves to have the ball and take on opponents. I know PPCFC are the most respected club in Cambodia and I'm proud to be a part of the Crown Family - I can't wait to get started." Koen began his football in the academy at HFC Haarlem in Holland, before signing professional and making his debut in the Jupiler League (the Dutch 2nd Division) in 2009. He moved onto AZ Alkmaar briefly when Haarlem went bankrupt, before joining VVSB in the Topklasse League, the Dutch third tier, four years ago. Last season, Koen scored 17 goals and provided 16 assists in 27 matches for VVSB, completed his masters degree in International Sports Management and is really looking forward to making Cambodia his new home. Head coach Sam Schweingruber is pleased with his new addition. "I am very happy that this deal with Koen has come through. I considered him for the second part of the season in May but it didn’t work out back then. Later he came for try-out and showed determination to be part of our project. He is technically very good and because he uses both feet equally, for a defender he's hard to predict. He has great instincts and scores lots of goals. I also like his confidence and ambition - somebody that it is a joy to work with. He is smart, disciplined and professional - what we need to move forward in our attempt to be the best club in Cambodia and to retain our title."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Downed in the rain

A very wet Cambodian starting line-up v Malaysia
Torrential rain caused an interruption of tonight's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy tie between Cambodia and Malaysia's U-21 teams, though the sides managed to complete the game on a sodden pitch, with Malaysia doing just enough to win 1-0. The temporary halt came after 18 minutes with the teams resuming and being unable to break the deadlock at the mid-way interval. The only goal of the game came on 66 minutes when substitute Asri Mardzuki made the difference to give Malaysia the winning strike. It took his team to the top of the group table with 7 points from three games, whilst Cambodia dropped to fourth, just a point behind. It was Cambodia's first loss after two successive victories over Brunei and Singapore. They now meet Indonesia on Saturday and then Vietnam in their final group game on Monday. Coach Lee Tae-Hoon changed his line-up from the 3-1 win over Singapore, bringing back keeper Um Vichet, Hoy Phallin in the middle and Phoung Soksana up front.
Cambodia v Malaysia: Vichet, Da, Samoeun, Sovan, Daravorn, Srin, Sokumpheak, Phallin, Udom, Vathanaka, Soksana. Subs: Phearun, Pidor, Borey, Suhana, Ravy, Tola, Chhoeun.
Cambodia skipper Kouch Sokumpheak exchanges pennants before the game begins

Korean experience

The U-13s line-up before their game with Thailand
Twelve young boys and their female coach Bi Phally went to Incheon in South Korea recently to represent their country and Phnom Penh Crown. They are all members of the Crown community teams except Academy student and captain, Mit Samel. The Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport and the Football Federation asked Crown to supply the team for the second year running. Sixteen countries took part in the Asian Youth Festival, with 62 teams at three age-levels. The boys from Cambodia were in the U-13 category and played four matches. Their first day was a mixed bag, losing their opening game 2-0 to Thailand but winning their second tie, 4-0 against Korean team, FC Jwasuyoung. The following day they played their final two matches and recorded a 1-1 draw with Eobang School  and then a 3-2 victory over JSD FC, both opponents from Korea. So that's 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat out of their 4 matches and lots of fun for all the boys. They represented their country and their club extremely well, so a big well done to them and their coach Phally. 
The whole U-13 squad, coach Phally and friends

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another two years

Thierry signs on the dotted line - click to enlarge
Another piece of the jigsaw was slotted into place today as midfield playmaker Bin Thierry signed on the dotted line for another two years with Phnom Penh Crown, extending his contract until 2016. Thierry is currently training with the Cambodia national team ahead of the Suzuki Cup and is very pleased to commit himself to Crown. "I'm extremely happy to sign for two more years and to remain in Cambodia. I love the club, the players, the staff and I'm very excited to stay, especially to play in the AFC Cup next year. It was great to win the championship, even though I played only half the season, but I was there all the time, supporting my teammates - it was great for the club and the players to get this success, which we deserved. The big difference was that everyone played for each other and for the team, we were united together as one," he said whilst signing his new contract. Head coach Sam Schweingruber, currently on FIFA duty in China, had this to say. "He was my very first signing when I joined Crown soon 2 years ago. He has lots of potential and was unlucky with injury and suspension this year. We know of his qualities and importance and I am very excited that he has chosen to be with us for the next 2 years - rejecting better offers from our competitors and staying committed to our project and team. I would like to thank Thierry for his trust in me as a coach and I am committed to further help develop him to reach his goals for the club and personally. Hopefully next season will be the best we have ever seen from Thierry. He is now focusing on his national team duties, where I believe he will also be the star player in the upcoming Suzuki Cup campaign." Thierry was born in Paris, the son of Battambang-born Khmer parents, and played in France until he joined Crown in October 2012. Now 23 years old, he impressed on a tour of Cambodia by the Khmer-Europe XI.  As a youngster, he was at the RC Strasbourg academy and played for the Paris District U-14s and the France U-16 national team before spells at FC Saint-Jean-Le-Blanc and Aubervilliers. He’s a natural left-footed midfield player who quickly became a crowd favourite and who represented Cambodia in the last SEA Games in Myanmar. Injury and suspension interrupted his championship-winning season.

Two on the trot

Cambodia v Singapore, back row, LtoR: Udom, Daravorn, Vathanaka, Srin, Sovan, Sokumpheak (capt). Front: Tola, Chhoeun, Da, Phearun, Samoeun - courtesy of Sabay

Cambodia's U-21 team will be cock-a-hoop after their second successive win in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy this afternoon. They led by three clear goals at the break and eventually ran out 3-1 victors over a very young and inexperienced Singapore team. However, Cambodia won't mind that as this second victory will put them in a confident mood ahead of their three remaining fixtures. Coach Lee Tae-Hoon made three changes to his starting line-up after the 1-nil win over Brunei at the weekend. The Phnom Penh Crown trio of Sokumpheak, Srin and Da kept their places, with Sokumpheak again wearing the captain's armband. Those first-half goals came courtesy of Chan Vathanaka, Nob Tola and Prak Mony Udom, with Singapore scoring their consolation ten minutes after the restart. Vathanaka fired the first from a Prak Mony Udom pass inside the box on 22 minutes, Tola tapped in the second from a Sokumpheak lay-off on 37 minutes before Udom let fly from 25 yards into the top corner three minutes before the break. Singapore hit back with their own fierce drive on 55 minutes but there was no way back at the Berakas Sports Complex. So its onwards and upwards for the U-21s who now meet Malaysia on Wednesday. Cambodia v Singapore: Phearun, Da, Samoeun, Daravorn, Sovan, Srin, Sokumpheak, Udom, Chhoeun, Vathanaka, Tola. Subs: Vichet, Suhana, Ravy, Phallin, Borey, Pidor, Soksana.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rare away success

Cam v Brunei, back row, LtoR: Udom, Srin, Sovan, Vichet, Soksana, Daravorn. Front: Samoeun, Da, Phallin, Vathanaka, Sokumpheak (capt) - click to enlarge
Kouch Sokumpheak, Phnom Penh Crown's captain, led out the Cambodia U-21 team in the first of their five Hassanal Bolkiah U-21 Trophy matches in Brunei, against the host nation, on Saturday evening. And thanks to a 15th minute goal from Chan Vathanaka, the Cambodia team will take a rare opening victory into their next game against Singapore on Monday. Victories on the road under Korean coach Lee Tae-Hoon have been few and far between, so the players will revel in this success, against the 2012 trophy winners and in front of a big home audience. Lee also included Crown's Ngoy Srin, in a deep-lying midfield role, and Thourng Da at right-back, in the starting line-up, with Sos Suhana, a non-playing substitute. In the 2012 edition of the HBT Cambodia lost all of their matches, so this first game success will be very welcome by players and fans alike. Video of the match revealed that the home team made it hard for themselves, conceding a soft goal on 15 minutes and then having to play with 10-men for the last thirty minutes. Vathanaka tried a long range effort from 30 yards out and the Brunei keeper Abdul Rahim attempted to grab the ball only managing to push it onto the crossbar and fumbling it into the net for a gift of a goal. Vichet in the Cambodia goal had no answer to Zulkhairy's effort which crashed against the crossbar at the end of an otherwise uninspiring opening half. Just after the hour, Brunei's keeper went off injured and his replacement meant Brunei had to remove one of their outfield players, as they already had the allowed three overage players on the pitch. That meant they were one man down for the last quarter of the game. Not exactly bright team tactics by their South Korean coach. Nob Tola had a header saved which rebounded to Kouch Sokumpheak close-in but his header went agonizingly wide, while Moul Daravorn sent his header from six yards wide of the target. Vathanaka sent a looping header against the cross-bar late on, while Brunei too struck the woodwork before the referee called an end to proceedings after eight minutes of stoppage time. The Laos referee somehow managed to book both Srin and Da for innocuous challenges. A confidence-boosting win for Cambodia though they will need to up their performance level in their remaining matches if they are to make this success count. Cambodia v Brunei: Vichet, Da, Samoeun, Daravorn, Sovan, Srin (Pidor 85), Phallin, Sokumpheak, Udom (Tola 66), Vathanaka, Soksana (Chhoeun 69). Subs not used: Phearun, Borey, Suhana, Ravy.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Messi signs on

Ouk Sothy and his extended contract
Winning the Championship is a great way to encourage your best players to stay and seek to retain the title, which is what is happening at Phnom Penh Crown with many of the squad pledging themselves to the club for the next year or two. One of those who did that yesterday was Ouk Sothy. Known to all as Messi, he signed a two-year contract extension, that will take the midfielder through to the end of the 2016 season. Currently training with the Cambodia national team squad ahead of the Suzuki Cup involvement, he was a prominent part of our midfield engine-room during our Championship success. Coach Sam Schweingruber commented on Sothy's contract extension: "He has been a key player in this year's success and has shown great progress, and for many games in a row was my personal 'man of the match,' which earned him the title 'most improved player of season 2014'. This has also been noticed by the national team coach and other clubs, who tempted Messi with big offers. I am proud for him to choose what is best for his future, as I hope he will be with us beyond his years as a player and stay involved as a coach and mentor to the next generation. His work ethic, skills and discipline together with improved physical strength and understanding, will make him a key player for the next few years. I hope he will soon start scoring again - something we only see in training and not in the games. I wish him success in the team and continued further improvement." Sothy joined Crown in November 2011 after playing local football with Flying Bikes and as a member of the Cambodia national futsal team.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sam on the spot

Sam Schweingruber answering questions
Phnom Penh Crown coach Sam Schweingruber answered a series of questions from local news website Sabay and this is what he had to say:

Q. What was good and bad about your season?
A. If you only draw 3 games and lose 2 out of 22 games (so make 54 from a max of 66 - dropping 12 points) and you are 7 points clear of second place, you have obviously done a lot of things really well. Our team has a good understanding of how we want to play, good ideas, very good fitness and also excellent team work and unity. We focused quite a bit on set pieces and have achieved reasonable success. The coaching staff managed to give the players a goal that everybody worked really well to achieve. For weak points - I would call it areas that we want to improve. Not weak but more like not yet good enough. We are getting better at understanding how to play in difficult situations, need to be more relaxed under pressure, so that is a mental problem and comes with experience and we hope to develop this. We also need to be more composed in front of goal. I am not happy with the amount of chances we missed. Also, this year we conceded a total of 20 goals - that is too much and a few of the goals were really silly mistakes - we will work hard to cut these mistakes and be better organized.
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Q. What was the difference between the 1st and 2nd Rounds for your team?
A. A good team in not built overnight, it takes time to develop understanding of the plans and also understanding of the players with each other. Sure, the addition of Adriano Pellegrino helped our team to be more mature and controlled in stressful situations. But all in all I would say that our team needed more time to develop and get more comfortable with the ways we want to play. We only lost 1 game in the first half of season - and that had to do with an early red card in the game - something that can happen to any team.

Q. What's your future with Crown?
A. As I am currently working for FIFA in China for a whole month, the contract negotiations have not been progressing. I have a verbal agreement from the Club to continue to work with me. Even though I have some other interesting offers, I am hoping to stay at the Club for a few more years to further develop this project to make the Club more professional and also gain international recognition.

Q. What are the plans for next season?
A. The plans are to further improve the way we play and start integrating Academy players into the first team for longer term success. We will do everything possible to achieve success in the domestic competitions and strengthen our squad if possible to also be challenging internationally. Yes, we will try hard to retain the CPL title, but we are also aware that there are many other teams investing and looking to develop a strong team to challenge us. This is good for Cambodian Football as competition will improve the quality and standard. 

Q. What was good and bad about the season?
A. The playing facilities (both pitches) are terrible and the standard of refereeing will also need to be further improved for football to properly develop in Cambodia. The new teams that were added have impressed me, I am glad these teams (Albirex and TriAsia) are here and try to develop football the right way. 

Q. What about activities for the Fans?
A. I am very happy to see more and more focus on generating interest for the fans. The fans are the blood of each club and we need more of them to get our clubs more professional and better. I hope the Cambodian people start to understand more of the meaning of loyalty to a club - so many people I see wear Boeung Ket and Crown jerseys within the same season - some people even change during the day - unbelievable. At Crown we are committed to prioritize the establishment of a proper fan club and we hope to have at the start of home games, a good crowd to support us.

Q. Will the new surface at Olympic Stadium improve our football?
A. Oh for sure, the current field is absolute disgraceful, never cut, not maintained, sometimes rocks on it and so on. To get an artificial pitch is not ideal but at least we then have a flat surface to play on. You can see how much better the Academy play when they go overseas and the same was true for our first team when we played in Vietnam, much better football for teams that look at applying a possession-based style of football. FIFA studies show how the level of football improves if you invest in new pitches - this is one of the reasons Crown has a very good training ground and is soon going to have home games on a great pitch. I'm glad the FFC has received the FIFA funding to renovate the Olympic Stadium.
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Q. How should the FFC improve?
A. The lack of communication is strange. We don’t even know what player is on how many yellow cards. There are no official websites or information online, so it is hard for fans or officials to get news. There are many decisions made by the Federation that should be in agreement with the clubs. Suspensions of players are handled without consulting players and there is no proper way to appeal and so on. In general, the Federation is challenged with a lot of work and limited manpower, so there are many shortfalls. Double standards are something that I can not believe the fans accept, complete injustice or clear wrong decisions I have a hard time to believe the fans and football community are not protesting louder. But I think it is all part of the slow process of developing football in Cambodia. The list of questions I have, concerns I could raise, and wrong doing that I could point to is very long and to address over the media is the wrong way - so I leave it at this. Cambodia needs a reserve league and I am currently designing a proposal to get funding to organize it with Crown and endorsed by the Federation. Hopefully this will be possible soon.
Sam Schweingruber meets Liu Jiangnan at Guangzhou Evergrande Football School

Sam Schweingruber is currently on a FIFA assignment in China, coaching children and their coaches, at the largest football academy in the world, the Guangzhou Evergrande Football School. Here he hands over a Crown jersey to the school president Liu Jiangnan, a former deputy chairman of the Chinese FA. The statistics for the school are dramatic. It cost $115million to build, the 300-acre project is breathtaking in scale: as well as more than 50 football pitches, it boasts an Olympic-size outdoor pool, a supermarket, a cinema, an open-air stadium and four tower blocks which house around 500 full-time staff. There are 2,400 full-time football-playing students, including 200 girls and 126 youth teams at the school, located 50 miles from Guangzhou. The scale is mind-boggling and all designed to make China a football superpower in the future. 

Adriano signs for 1 more year

Adriano Pellegrino with Crown VP Tommy Lim
NEWSFLASH - Adriano Pellegrino, who made such a dramatic impact on the 2nd half of their Championship-winning season, has signed a contract extension to keep him with Phnom Penh Crown for another year. His 3 goals and 12 assists were a major factor in supporting the team to their 5th Cambodian League title success. Head coach Sam Schweingruber had this to say from China, where he's on FIFA assignment. "We are very happy Adriano has accepted the contract extension for the next year and will be with us to help defend our title. Everybody has seen the impact he had during his 3 month spell with us and we are happy that he is going to be on our side for the next campaign, supporting our team with his qualities, experience and leadership." Adriano is pictured with club vice president Tommy Lim and his new contract. The Australian playmaker, aged 30, played A-League football in his home country with Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariner's, as well as spells in Greece and Malaysia and gained 4 caps for Australia's U-20 national team. Here's what the midfielder had to say on his decision to stay:
"I'm very happy and honoured to have signed a new contract with Crown. It's been an amazing past 3 months having joined the club and being crowned champions, now to have signed a new contract, and be a part of the club long-term, I am very much looking forward to it. The club is going in a great direction with Crown competing next season in Asian competitions, new stadium being built, new signings at the club and a great youth program, and I want to be a part of all that in the future to come. I have to make a special mention to head coach Sam who has been sensational since I arrived at Crown. He is a great coach and look forward to working with him in the future to come, in competing and doing well in Asian competitions and also defending our CPL title next season." Adriano is celebrating his 1-year extension with a visit to Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples, one of the places he was looking forward to visiting when he knew he was coming to Cambodia. He also added that he hoped by his remaining in Cambodia, that it might open the door for other Australian players to play in the C-League. "It's an up and coming league and a great stage for more Australian players to play," commented the former A-League star.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Looking back


In the wake of the recent draw for the AFC President’s Cup 2014 that will take place in Sri Lanka this September - the last ever edition - here's the highlights of a competition highly regarded throughout Asia for offering a platform for clubs from emerging nations. The AFC President’s Cup was first competed for in 2005, a move designed to afford an opportunity for the league champions of AFC’s emerging nations to feature in a competitive continental competition. The relevant clubs embraced the concept, and, with Asia watching on, duly started participating on a continental stage. Despite the AFC’s decision to bring the curtain down on the nine-year existence of the AFC President’s Cup, clubs from emerging nations will bid farewell to the competition safe in the knowledge that there are more opportunities in the offing. From 2015 onwards, the AFC has decided that the league champions from emerging nations can play in the AFC Cup qualification stage, and, therefore, showcase their talent at an even higher level.

The AFC President’s Cup journey began in 2005 when Regar TadAZ from Tajikistan defeated Kyrgyzstan's Dordoi Dynamo (now FC Dynamo) 3-0 to lift the inaugural title in Kathmandu.
Dordoi won the next two competitions in Malaysia and Pakistan, while Regar again reigned supreme in 2008 and 2009. The following year, Yadanarbon of Myanmar became the first winners of the competition from outside Central Asia when they defeated Dordoi 1-0 in Myanmar. Chinese Taipei became the first East Asian representative to win the competition in 2011 when Taiwan Power Company lifted the trophy in front of home support (beating Phnom Penh Crown 3-2), while subsequent wins for Tajikistan’s Istiqlol and Turkmenistan's Balkan in 2012 and 2013 ensured that there is still to be a winner from West or South Asia. Palestine’s Al Am’ari and KRL Football Club of Pakistan, did however make it into the finals in the 2012 and 2013 editions respectively. There are three representatives from South Asia in the upcoming and last edition of the competition, while DPR Korea's Rimyongsu are making their debut. Erchim of Mongolia and FC HTTU are making their appearances in the finals for the first time.