Ah, football television replays, don't you just love them. I've now had the opportunity to study closely and numerous times the 4 penalty incidents that were waved aside by referee Thong Chankethya (pictured), in the Phnom Penh Crown v Preah Khan match on Saturday. All four incidents were against Crown and were caught on film by the live TVK cameras who covered the season's opening match. Unfortunately, they don't have multiple camera angles or slow-motion to really get up close and intimate with the action, but for two of the incidents, it's clear to me that the referee got it badly wrong. The other two are inconclusive from the television coverage, so for those the official gets the benefit of the doubt.
Incident 1: 18 minutes. Crown striker Kingsley Njoku took on the Preah Khan defence and as he shaped to go past Suon Thuon, the last man, Sok Rithy raced back and brushed against Kingsley, sending him sprawling inside the box. His fall wasn't automatic and I think that may have swayed the referee's decision not to award anything.
Incident 2: 41 minutes. Kouch Sokumpheak's lofted ball into the box sailed over Njoku's head and appeared to strike the hand of the last defender Nen Sothearoth. The referee awarded a corner though he may've been blindsided by the player's body obscuring his view. The immediate shouts from two Crown players close to the action told him otherwise.
Incident 3: 57 minutes. Chan Chaya took on the last defender in the penalty area, slipping the ball through the legs of Nen Sothearoth and was pushed over by the PKR man as he tried to go past him. Clear penalty. Chaya's fall was a mite theatrical but it should have been a spot kick. Instead Chaya was booked for simulation. So a double-whammy cock-up by the official.
Incident 4: Last but not least, Sokumpheak weaved his way into the box, surrounded by four defenders before his right leg was clipped by the recovering Nen Sothearoth (the young defender must've done something good in a former life to get so much fortune in 1 game) and the striker was sent sprawling. Chankethya waved play on, standing just five yards from the incident. It's strange that he was so close and yet he couldn't see the blatantly obvious.
So there you have it. Trial by television camera replays. 50% wrong and the other 50% inconclusive. Referee Thong Chankethya later added insult to injury by dismissing Chaya for a 2nd yellow card when he was the victim of a chest-push by Moul Daravorn. I hope the men in suits take a close look at the TVK coverage of the match and draw their own conclusions.