Friday, July 8, 2011

Discipline faux pas

Referee Khuon Virak, as he likes to see himself (courtesy of Nick Sells)
Time for another moan. The disciplinary system in Cambodian football needs reviewing in my opinion. Teams play just 18 league matches a season. So for a system to suspend a player for 1 match after receiving 2 yellow cards is a big deal to the clubs. If he collects 4 yellows, he gets two matches. In my view, a player should only be suspended after accumulating 4 cautions. If a player gets a red card, he also gets a 1 match suspension, which is acceptable. Having such little leeway before a player receives a suspension has a big impact, especially as referees like Khuon Virak and Thong Chankethya hand out cautions like confetti in the C-League and their decisions can have a big impact down the line. Midfield and defensive players are especially prone to picking up yellow cards and missing games. Take tomorrow for example. Phnom Penh Crown are expected (I say that because the federation have been slow to confirm) to be without 4 players, out through suspension. 3 of them are midfield players, San Narith, Sun Sopanha and Phoung Narong. The joke part of it is that Sopanha is suspended for 2 league games after picking up what amounts to four cautions, yet the federation were more than happy for him to play twice for the Cambodian national team in the World Cup qualifiers in between the games he will miss for his club side. Because it suited them. Also missing the Crown match against Rithysen tomorrow will be striker Kingsley Njoku. He's been cautioned twice this season. He was booked against Naga for complaining about a free-kick and was then shown a yellow card for simulation by Khuon Virak against National Police, when it was blatantly obvious to everyone but the match official, that Njoku was fouled and should've been awarded a penalty kick. That decision by Virak, which was woeful in the extreme, now means that Crown are without their striker for 1 match - a prime example of why the system is too rigid and inflexible. To be frank, Njoku's yellow card against the Police should've been rescinded after the federation disciplinary committee reviewed the video evidence from the game - but this is Cambodia so that's not going to happen is it. And Njoku will miss tomorrow's match as a result.

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