PPCFC v Rithysen: Back Row LtoR: S Pheng, Sopanha, Dara, Obadin, Tiny, Narong. Front Row: Ota, Virak, Chaya, Bunchhay, SothearithPhnom Penh Crown began the second half of the Metfone C-League season with an expected victory over relegation-threatened Rithysen, which pleased their new English coach David Booth. "I'm pleased that we won but we should have scored more goals. Our preparation this week was severely disrupted with the weather and the inability to find out who was available, but the players did a professional job today. It was difficult to judge as the opposition seemed a little weak but at 5-0 I've got to be happy. It was also nice to see goals from different departments of the team. I felt that we should press the opposition and push onto them and it worked." With the new coach arriving just a week ago, the players were out to impress in his first match in charge, with suspensions ruling out San Narith and Kingsley Njoku and illness relegating Kouch Sokumpheak to the bench.
The match started pretty much as it would continue throughout the first half, with nippy wingman Suong Virak outpacing his marker and firing in a low cross which Sok Pheng failed to connect with in front of goal. Pheng was guilty of another missed opportunity on ten minutes when he hesitated to get his shot away after rounding the Rithysen goalkeeper. Two minutes later, the Crown striker forced a diving save out of the Rithysen custodian, Oum Veasna, following another dazzling run and center by Virak. It was then the wingers' turn to try his hand at breaking the deadlock but his powerful drive was cleared off the line by Mat Rofazy. Given time and space on the right wing, Virak was terrorizing the Rithysen backline. Wave after wave of Crown surges finally got their rewards on 16 minutes. Sun Sopanha's pass released Virak on the right wing, he evaded one tackle on the byeline, pulled back his cross to which Pheng got a touch to divert to the waiting Takahito Ota on the edge of the penalty box, and his accurate right-foot drive found the corner of the net.
Almost immediately, Sopanha slalomed around two tackles but saw his toe-poke pushed out by Veasna, Chan Chaya flashed a near post header inches wide and Virak took advantage of a wayward pass but failed to get any power behind his shot. The inevitable second goal arrived on 21 minutes as Sopanha again sent Virak racing in on goal, and though his first-time shot was blockled by Veasna, the dimintive winger smashed the rebound into the Rithysen net. It was no more than Virak deserved for his buzzing wing play. Sok Pheng went close with two more chances, one a free header that he should've got on target, Sopanha and Ota also tried their luck with long-range efforts before Crown netted their third goal six minutes before the half-time interval. Sopanha's touch released Chaya and his quick-feet on the edge of the box eluded two tackles before Oum Veasna mistimed his dive at Chaya's feet, bringing down the Crown striker and earning himself a yellow card. Tieng Tiny stepped up to blast the penalty kick into the net, sending Veasna the wrong way and giving Crown a 3-0 lead at the break.
The second half began in the same vein, Virak failing to get a stronger shot in on goal after Chaya's run and cross set him up, but Crown took their foot off the peddle and allowed Rithysen's Etim Esin a couple of chances, which he flashed wide. The introduction of Hong Ratana for Chaya saw Crown back in the driving seat and a push in the back of Ratana by San Osman gave Crown another penalty. Skipper Thul Sothearith stepped up to fire his spot-kick past Veasna on 70 minutes. Takahito Ota tried his luck with a couple of range finders from the edge of the box, the first of which was an inch away from the upright. On 83 minutes Sok Pheng finally got on the scoresheet, when Virak took on two defenders and pulled his center back to the waiting striker, who toe-poked his shot under the diving Veasna from fifteen yards out. Kouch Sokumpheak, who'd been ill before the game, gave a cameo performance for the last five minutes and Sok Pheng then missed the easiest chance of the game, firing high and wide from Kenneth Nwafor's incisive pass. Crown ran out 5-0 winners, a job well done and they remain firmly in the number one spot in the league standings.
PPCFC line-up: Bunchhay, Dara, Sothearith, Tiny, Obadin, Narong (Nwafor 77), Sopanha (Sokumpheak 85), Ota, Virak, Chaya (Ratana 66), S Pheng. Subs not used: Visokra,Bunna, Vanthan, Sovan, Sovannrithy, Sophat, Sochivorn, H Pheng. Bookings: Ratana, Obadin.