C-League matches couldn't have been more different. BBU went back into 2nd spot with a regulation 6-0 stuffing of Wat Phnom with Nelson Oladiji and Sophat Chansokunthina both grabbing two goals apiece. Prum Putsethy and Chan Veasna also scored for the students. Wat Phhom had Chan Youhan needlessly sent off. In the 2nd game, PKR's solitary winner against Kirivong came from Sok Chanrasmey half an hour into the second half. But the game should never have been played, especially after the half-time interval. This was a mockery of the game of football. The torrential downpour flooded the pitch and they were lucky to get to half-time. A 30-minute break ensued before the referee, Khuon Ly, brought the teams back out again, even though the public address had announced the game was abandoned and some people left the stadium. They played on but the ball couldn't travel over the surface so both teams resorted to kick and rush. The ball spent most of the time in the air, and when it was on the ground, sliding tackles reigned supreme. PKR actually adapted better to the conditions and got the game's decider but the match should never have been allowed to take place. Kirivong will rue a penalty by Julius Chukwumeka that brought out the best in PKR keeper Ouk Mic.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Army in red, beaten by a single goal in a rain-affected defeat by NagaNaga go back to the top of the Metfone C-League with this afternoon's rain-soaked 1-nil victory over the Army, who suffered their 5th defeat in a row. Chhim Sambo got the decisive goal, aided by the appalling conditions, though a draw would've been a fairer result. In the other game, Khemara put Chhma Khmao to the sword, or so they thought, as the bottom club gave them a few scares before finally going down 6-4. Ek Vannak and Samut Dalin got two goals apiece for Khemara, with Suon Makara and Hou Sambo also on the scoresheet. The Black Cats' scorers were Sok Kolamara, But Chanra, Meak Chhordaravuth and a Som Chandaravuth penalty. The latter also saw red in the closing stages with a pointless sending off by the referee.
Friday, June 25, 2010
New C-League leaders Phnom Penh Crown take a breather this weekend and will lose out on the top spot if Naga can inflict more damage on the Army's recent form, which is in tatters with four straight defeats, after they began the season with such promise. It would've been the first opportunity for hard-man Om Thavrak to face his former club after his recent mid-season move, but with two bookings in his first two games for the Army, I think he'll be watching the game from the main stand. If the Army can re-discover some backbone the final result could be close. In the other game Saturday, Khemara need to show their mettle and put Chhma Khmao in their place or else they could find themselves getting dragged ever closer to the relegation drop zone. Sunday's big match-up is Kirivong against Preah Khan. Both teams are in good form and its the Chukwumeka v Laboravy contest, as the two in-form strikers battle it out for top-dog bragging rights in this game. The first match on Sunday is deposed leaders BBU facing Wat Phnom, with the students likely to win that one.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Metfone C-League yesterday afternoon with a 3-2 win over relegation-threatened Prek Pra Keila and things are looking ominous for the rest of the league when you consider Crown's strength in depth compared to the other squads. They chopped and changed the line-up again yesterday from the team that banged nine past Chhma Khmao, though found Prek Pra a more difficult proposition than they might've expected. Chan Chhaya netted a goal for Crown in between two for Uche Prince Justine to give them a commanding three-goal advantage at the break. A strike from Sos Souhana just after the restart and another from Mat Hasan had Crown in a bit of a lather but they held out to take the points and move above Naga on goal difference. Crown's is 29, Naga's is 18. They are both on 25 points after 11 games. In a re-run of last season, Prince Justine has again taken over at the head of the race for the Golden Boot award with 14 goals and we're only just past the half-way point in the season. Expect a lot more goals from The Prince, as the focal point of the Crown attack.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Metfone C-League action for a few weeks, was very nearly the same. The final score was 9-1 with Ung Dara grabbing a late consolation effort for the no-hopers with a sweetly struck thunderbolt. As for Crown, their line-up was a collection of youngsters led by skipper for the day, 18 yearold Keo Sokngorn. He took his responsibilities seriously and scored twice in the 1st half. Uche Prince Justine did likewise, with two more to his tally and Heng Sokly rolled one in to give Crown a 5-nil half-time headstart. In the second half, The Prince completed his hat-trick, but missed a hatful of others, to take him to 12 for the season, 1 behind Julius Chukwumeka. Substitute Sok Pheng came on to grab a couple, both set up by The Prince and Friday Nwakuna also scored as Crown gave the bottom team a footballing lesson, despite leaving at least half a dozen regulars on the bench.
C-League games, so no-one went home complaining. In the first game, Preah Khan Reach always had too much for Khemara, but the losers put up a good showing and in Suon Makara they have a central striker in the making. They stuck the lanky defender up front a few weeks ago out of desperation but he's grown into the role and his touch, his confidence and everything else has visibly grown in between. They'll need him firing on all cylinders if they are to stave off a relegation battle after their skipper Kuoch Sokumpheak limped off just after the break. Makara netted a neat headed goal early in the 2nd half but Preah Khan were already well in front by then. Sokumpheak had given them early hope with a superbly-struck free-kick from 18 yards. But PKR were never really in danger. Sok Chanrasmey and Khuon Laboravy gave them a 2-1 half-time lead. Laboravy netted two more for his hat-trick, as well as missing a glut of other chances. The youngster has certainly rewarded his coach for recalling him to the team in recent weeks and now has 10 goals for the season. Tum Saray popped up to score a couple of goals as well. The other Khemara consolation was scored by Paris Zidougha, who lost sub Net Veasna to a red card for a last-man foul just before the end. Preah Khan stay in 4th spot in the league table and will be buoyed by the return to the side of a fit-again Sok Rithy.
2 minutes from time, Thong Oudom swung and missed his clearance, Tran Cong Danh's shot was half saved by Samreth Seiha but poacher Julius Chukwumeka followed up to bundle it over the line for the late winner. His second goal of the match and 13th of the season, and his team leap-frogged above the Army into fifth. It was Chukwumeka who'd opened his account two minutes before the interval when the linesman missed a blatant offside call and the red-hot striker lobbed the ball in from thirty yards. Referee Duong Socheat got an ear-bashing from the Army camp as the teams left the pitch. Sin Dalin latched onto a long-range Khim Borey pass to equalize just before the hour but it wasn't to be the Army's day.
Metfone C-League table but that didn't stop them from putting on an entertaining display on Saturday. Honours were even at the end, with Prek Pra and Wat Phnom settling for a 2-2 draw but the actions of referee Khuon Virak had the crowd venting their anger long after the final whistle. The match began in driving rain and a strong wind in Prek Pra's favour. It was a comedy of errors in the first 20 minutes as both teams struggled with the conditions. A slip by the Wat Phnom keeper gave Prek Pra the opener when he slid out, fumbled the ball and gave Mat Hasan a tap-in. However they lost Put Sotheara to a red card after just 6 minutes of the 2nd half as referee Virak began to make his mark on the match. That gave Wat Phnom the edge and two goals in five minutes put them ahead, through Phlong Chanthou and Ry Pheareun. The referee then evened the numbers by dismissing Wat Phnom’s combative Peter Ejike for what he saw as a dive. And Prek Pra took the initiative to equalize through Philip Ali 9 minutes from the end. The goalscorer was then dismissed in the third minute of additional time when the linesman spotted something, snitched to the referee and Khuon Virak flashed his third red card of the afternoon. That sent the Prek Pra players, coaching team and fans into uproar, venting their spleen at the match officials.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
With the weather really poor again this afternoon, it was lucky for the C-League fans that braved the elements that it also rained goals on the pitch as well. Preah Khan, with Khuon Laboravy netting a hat-trick, swept past Khemara 6-3, who saw Kuoch Sokumpheak limp off just after half-time. In the 2nd game, Phnom Penh Crown finally put in an appearance after another stint abroad and saw off the league's bottom team Chhma Khmao, winning 9-1 with Prince Justine grabbing a hat-trick. Teenage skipper for the day, Keo Sokngorn also scored a brace as Crown fielded a team littered with youngsters. More later.
Referee Khuon Virak sees the red mist once again. Photo nicksellsphotographyWhat has happened to referee Khuon Virak? In the first half of the C-League season, he was the man in the middle for 6 matches and didn't feel the need to produce a red card once. He booked 17 players in those six games but not one red card. Then we begin the second half of the season and the guy has gone red card crazy. In just two matches he's produced 6, yes six, red cards and another 15 yellow cards. In the BBU v Kirivong game last weekend he sent off 3 playes and then yesterday, he dismissed Prek Pra's Put Sotheara and Philip Ali and Wat Phnom's Peter Ejike. Sotheara's first booking was for stooping too low to head the ball in the referee's opinion - a ridiculous decision. Peter Ejike's red card was for a earlier tackle and then what the referee saw as a dive, but what I saw as evening up the numbers. And then Virak really incurred the wrath of the Prek Pra coach Yep Phirum, as well as the vociferous Prek Pra fans in the stand, by taking the advice of his linesman and booking Philip Ali for the second time, for an off-the-ball incident in the last few seconds of the game, resulting in a third red card of the match. Ali just happens to be the fans' favourite and had scored the equalizer nine minutes from time, so his red card was the last straw for the fans who vented their anger long and loudly after the final whistle.
The second half of the season has seen a dramatic increase in red cards. In the whole of the first half, we saw 9 red cards in total. In the first eight games of the second half of the campaign, we've seen 8 red cards already, with Khuon Virak responsible for six of them. There's definitely evidence that some of the referees in particular are cautioning way too many players and creating a situation where they feel they have no choice but to send off players for a second offense. Khuon Virak and his fellow referees, Thong Chankethya and Yien Kivatanak are the ones most likely to whip out a red card or two in matches, simply because they book too many players. Chankethya has also sent off 2 players in the two matches he's officiated in since the mid-season break. Of course the players have to take some of the responsibility here but I watch most of the C-League matches and I disagree with up to half of the bookings I witness. These dismissals are affecting the outcome of games and should be looked at as a priority by the football federation.
Metfone C-League results last night. Maybe it was something to do with the god awful weather that blighted both matches. It rained cats and dogs during the early stages of the entertaining 2-2 draw between two of the league's relegation candidates Prek Pra and Wat Phnom, that ended in a heap of controversy, mainly to do with match referee Khuon Virak. He incurred the wrath of the Prek Pra coach in particular for sending off Philip Ali in the final seconds after the Nigerian defender had earned his team a point with an equalizing header, for an off the ball incident that no-one except the linesman saw, or thought he saw. It was referee Virak's third red card in the game, more of that later. In the 2nd game, the Army and Kirivong also turned on the entertainment tap at full blast and produced a thriller. 2 minutes from time, as the teams played in what were impossible conditions as the persistent rain became a thunderstorm and the pitch more akin to water-polo than football, Kirivong's Julius Chukwumeka pounced for the match winning goal, and his second, to give Kirivong a 2-1 win, which was very harsh on their Army opponents. the win takes Kirivong into 5th spot, moving ahead of the Army. And for Chukwumeka, he moves to the top of the Golden Book goalscoring rankings with 13 goals. More later.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Kirivong's flying new signing Tran Cong Danh. Photo nicksellsphotographyThe weekend is nearly upon us, though there's a vital World Cup match in the early hours involving England and some no-hopers from north Africa. I'll be in the Gym bar tonight shouting myself hoarse as per usual. And standing for the national anthem, obviously. Doesn't everyone. Tomorrow will be a different kettle of fish when the Metfone C-League takes center stage at Olympic Stadium. Prek Pra face Wat Phnom in a relegation battle, whilst the Army will find it tough against Kirivong, who they beat 4-0 at the start of the season but fortunes are swinging in reverse for the two teams lately. If Kirivong's new Vietnamese import Tran Cong Danh continues where he left off in his first game, we should be in for some fireworks. He ran rings around BBU and could do the same against the Army, who have their own pocket dynamos in Suong Virak and Nov Soseila. On Sunday, Preah Khan face a rejuvenated Khemara whilst Phnom Penh Crown return to action against the C-League's own no-hopers, Chhma Khmao. League leaders Naga and 2nd placed BBU take a break after their midweek boring score draw.
My match report from Wednesday's C-League top of the table clash is in today's Phnom Penh Post. The photos come from a new boy on the block, Sreng Meng Srun, who has joined the PPP staff. He even got a picture on the front page of today's edition. Nick Sells had a day off. Click here.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Metfone C-League this afternoon in the bright sunshine at Olympic Stadium. We didn't get the blood and thunder top of the table clash I was hoping. It was pretty much a damp squib of a match to be honest. Nothing to get really excited about except two powerfully headed goals within 3 minutes of each other just after the half hour mark. And that was about it. There was some huffing and puffing, mostly from Naga who were the more offensive-minded of the two sides, though BBU had to play the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Thong Chankethya, the card-happy referee we all love to hate, did his favourite red card waving exercise for what looked like the merest of touches by Nhim Sovanara. He'd booked him earlier for bugger all as well. And that's the problem with this referee. He cautions too many players leaving himself with no leeway later on in matches. The goals came through new boy Nelson Oladiji for BBU who headed in a Chhun Sothearath corner on 35 minutes. In their next attack, Naga's Teab Vathanak rose majestically to power home his 12th goal of the season and put himself ahead of everyone else in the Golden Boot goalscorers chart. A lack of real goalmouth activity kept the score at 1-1 right until the end when Hem Simay pulled off a brilliant stop at the foot of the post to deny Kop Isa a last-gasp winner. Honours even and not much to write home about. Naga don't have the firepower they need to put away a team like BBU, and rely way too much on Vathanak, whilst the students may eke out a top 4 spot if they can frustrate teams like they did today.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Khemara's Paris Zidougha (24) has a battle on his hands to get credited with their 1st goal. Photo nicksellsphotographyAnother bee in my bonnet surfaced at yesterday's Metfone C-League game between Khemara and the Army. Khemara equalised as half-time approached with a flukey goal when Ek Vannak volleyed a shot against the knee of Army defender Thong Oudom and the ball ricocheted onto the head of Paris Zidougha before cannoning into the net. It was clearly, in anyone's book, Zidougha's goal and he celebrated as such. However, not in the eyes of the official match commissioner Thorm Angkeara. At half-time I checked with the officials and their version is that the goal was credited to Ek Vannak because it was his shot and Zidougha's involvement was purely unintentional. WTF has that got to do with anything? Vannak's name was announced over the loudspeaker and was shown on the official match result card, despite my insistence that their thinking was completely off the wall. When did intention have anything to do with goalscoring, I've never read that in any football rulebook. It's the last attacking player to touch the ball before it crosses the goal-line who gets the credit for any goal, the whole world and their dog knows that. So why do the Cambodian football federation match officials play by different rules? Sometimes I really do despair.
Naga Corp move ominously back to the top of the table with their win on Sunday. Top scorer Teab Vathanak is centre back row, number 10.Moving onto the Sunday matches in the Metfone C-League, we now have new league leaders in the shape of Naga Corp, who brushed aside Prek Pra, but not without the odd missed heartbeat. Joseph Oyewole was head and shoulders above every other player on the park as he bossed Naga's midfield and in Teab Vathanak they have a man with the knack of being johnny-on-the-spot more often than most. Vathanak scored both Naga goals to join Julius Chukwumeka at the top of the scorers chart with 11 goals to-date. His first was a volley from six yards out, his second was a free header from the same distance. He does his best work inside the penalty area and can be relied upon to take a tumble in every game, accompanied by the appropriate piercing scream, though in this match the referee didn't fall for his antics. However his goals, one in either half, were enough to win the day for Naga and send them back to the top of the table. They aren't playing particularly well but they are grinding out results as they march relentlessly to retaining their championship title. Prek Pra's consolation was scored by Put Sothera just after half-time. A quick word on Naga keeper Mak Theara. This boy needs to be taught a lesson and I hope one of the strikers in the league will do that soon enough. He has developed a distasteful habit of fly-kicking strikers when he collects the ball and referees are turning a blind eye to his antics. Someone needs to stop his nasty little game.
Why are teams near the bottom always called plucky? Anyway, here's the pluckmeisters from Prek Pra Keila.
Metfone C-league games. First up were the league leaders BBU against Kirivong, who had added some new faces to their squad. BBU were hit by a double sucker punch early doors when Lam Thang Giang tried his luck from 30 yards and succeeded, with Julius Chukwumeka doubling their advantage soon after. BBU thought they'd scored but Chan Veasna's long range chip didn't get the thumbs up from the blind linesmen and play was waved on, despite the ball striking the cross-bar and clearly landing behind the goal-line. I'm not an advocate for goal-line technology but even the most one-eyed fan could see it was a goal. It was just one decision that Khuon Virak, the referee, got wrong in the game. Hem Simay, the BBU keeper ran 60 yards to remonstrate with the officials and was still fuming as they left the field at half-time, with the linesman using the referee as his protective shield against Simay's venom. By that time the game was in the bag for Kirivong. They'd increased their lead on the half hour when Simay twice clattered into In Vichheka and Chukwumeka coolly slotted home the penalty kick. It was his 11th goal of the season and took him to the top of the scoring charts. By way of evening things up, referee Virak sent off Kirivong's combative skipper Tes Sophat just before the interval for what he saw as a dive, but what I saw as a simple collision. To be honest I think the referee and I were watching two different games. BBU's new recruit Nelson Oladiji poked in a consolation goal just after the restart but it was the pace and trickery of Kirivong's new Vietnamese import Tran Cong Danh who ended the game in great style. He was the quickest thing on two legs this weekend and if he maintains that form, he'll be one to watch in the second half of the season. He left defenders and the keeper for dead to score two minutes from time and then goaded Ung Marady into a rash challenge that saw him get a straight red card. BBU had already lost Rim Bunhieng to a red card ten minutes from time for a second bookable offence. With this 4-1 win, Kirivong set out their stall for the 2nd round of the league campaign whilst BBU will need to recover quickly if their challenge is to be maintained.
Kirivong hope Saturday's win will kick-start their league season. Top scorer Julius Chukwumeka is back row, far left, shirt no 7.Tum Saray opened the floodgates, Black Cat's defender Pao Ratha added to their woes with an own goal and then Khuon Laboravy continued his rich vein of scoring to give PKR a three-goal half-time advantage. Although Meak Chhordaravuth netted for the strugglers just after the break, Devide Njoku successfully tried his luck from 25 yards and teenager Chan Vathanaka, scored another to enhance his growing reputation. It was all too easy for PKR to be honest, who moved above the Army into 4th spot.