Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tired but unbowed

Crown coach Bojan Hodak (red) watches Tes Sophat and Sun Sovannrithy in pre-match sprints
Four games in nine days was the schedule that Phnom Penh Crown have had to endure thanks to the Cambodian football federation's refusal to postpone today's Metfone C-League match against Kirivong. Any right-minded football administrator would not have expected Crown to play so soon after three gruelling matches in the AFC President's Cup, representing their country. Not so the FFC. They refused saying that three days of recovery was sufficient and that a postponement was not possible. Well, a big thank you to the FFC for their careful consideration... and total lack of understanding. The effect was there for all to see in the first hour of the match this afternoon. The Crown team, also shorn of three of their best players through suspension, were well below par and were made to pay by a Kirivong team who took full advantage of the situation, and why not. Crown's defence have been meagre in the offerings they've allowed opponents this season and yet Kirivong were able to breach the Crown back-line on four occasions in that first hour. It doesn't take a genius to understand that the Crown players were in the most part, running on an empty tank.

Crown coach Bojan Hodak was understandably unhappy with the situation. "The FFC refused to postpone our match and you could see that our best players in the President's Cup, like Obadin and Bunchhay, they could hardly walk. We are a fit team and you could see that in the last 20 minutes when we dominated the game, but we lost our freshness, especially our defenders who were always one step too late. That was down to tiredness because of the number of hard games we've had to play." On the injury time penalty miss that would've won the game, Hodak said; "I don't blame Tony (Obadin), he was confident to take the responsibility. The two players I wanted to take the penalty didn't want to because they were not confident enough. You can practice penalties in training but no-one can devise a machine that can re-create the pressure of a match situation, no machine that can read which player mentally is up for the task. Tony was confident but it didn't work out. Today he wasn't at his best but he saved us during the President's Cup so today it was up to the other players to step forward."

Hodak's view on the performance of match referee Lim Bunthoeurn was less complimentary; "I think the referee was very disappointing and couldn't control a pretty easy and fair match. For example, in the five minutes of injury time, there was at least 3 minutes of time-wasting, but he didn't realise it or take it into account. But I don't blame him, it's all down to education and someone else has to answer why he was in charge of this match. The officials need to be good enough for this level of football." His final words echoed confidence in his players; "We are top of the table and we will stay there, despite the efforts of some people to move us from that position. I am sure we will finish top and achieve many good results this year."

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