Thursday, August 18, 2011

The big difference

Goalscorer Kouch Sokumpheak (right) and Sun Sovannrithy take a rest after the 1-0 win over Army
Crown line-up v Army. Back Row LtoR: Sovannrithy, Tiny, Ota, Obadin, Sopanha, Bunchhay. Front Row: Sokumpheak, Njoku, Narith, Chaya, Sothearith
Kouch Sokumpheak was one of the big differences between Phnom Penh Crown and their military opponents from the Army in yesterday's Metfone C-League clash. Not only did he score the game's only goal but he played like a man possessed, covering every blade of grass on the pitch and getting his foot in the way when the Army had their best, and only real chance of the game, twenty minutes from the end. Crown keeper Peng Bunchhay and Tieng Tiny had collided when going for a high ball and Sokumpheak spotted the danger, closing down and blocking Phuong Soksana's goal-bound effort eight yards out. His goal, on 27 minutes, was the perfect execution of a training ground routine that the team had worked on, in coach David Booth's words, "a million times." A foul on Kingsley Njoku, 25 yards from goal, looked a certain shooting opportunity for Sun Sopanha. I thought it and so did the Army defenders. Sopanha disguised his run up perfectly but instead of going for goal, he played a short pass to Njoku, who in turn flipped the ball to Sokumpheak, who'd peeled off the end of the defensive wall. In on goal, Sokumpheak took a touch before firing past Sou Yaty for what turned out to be the match-winner. The same player scored the only goal of the game when the two teams met in June. The Army will be glad to see the back of him. In truth, Crown dominated much of the game, particularly in the first-half. They started brightly and continued until the interval, pressing when Army had the ball and using their passing game to good effect, whilst the military team were content to hoof the long ball. Without their keeper Sou Yaty in great form, the Army would've been out of the game before the break.

Tieng Tiny's 50-yard lob that only just cleared the bar, signalled Crown's intentions after just forty seconds on the clock. On ten minutes, Sokumpheak's nod put in Takahito Ota but his whipped shot struck the outside of the upright. A minute later, Chan Chaya screwed a chance across the face of the goal and then it was Njoku's turn to miskick badly when set up by Chaya. A neat one-two between Sopanha and Sun Sovannrithy saw the rampant full-back in on goal, only to be denied by Yaty's stop. Sokumpheak finished off the text-book free-kick move on 27 minutes to put Crown's noses in front, but it was no more than they deserved for piling on the pressure. Yaty was being kept a busy man, holding onto a long distance effort from Njoku and then finger-tipping a Chaya header over the top from Sokumpheak's cross. The Crown marksman fizzed an effort just wide from the edge of the box before Yaty had the final say, a minute into added on time, when he again got his fingers to a Njoku blast to keep his team in the match. After the break, Crown remained in control but produced fewer goal-bound efforts though Yaty was again in the thick of it when he acrobatically tipped over a rasping free-kick from Sopanha and late on, stood firm when Hong Ratana fired an effort on target from an acute angle. I counted five excellent saves from the Army stopper who must've impressed the national team coach enough to warrant a starting spot in the forthcoming SEA Games squad.

Crown's victory was the 7th successive success since David Booth took over as coach. "I'm very pleased with my team in the 1st half, we pressed, we won the ball and we created chances. I was also very happy with our free-kick that worked a treat. It's great when things like that come off. But we needed more goals and after half-time we stopped doing what we did well in the 1st half. The result was the most important thing today but I also want us to play well for 90 minutes." The team now have an 11-day break until they meet Preah Khan Reach in their penultimate game of the league season. Another win will clinch the title for the reigning champions.
Crown line-up: Bunchhay, Sovannrithy, Sothearith, Tiny, Obadin, Narith, Ota (Ratana 68), Sopanha (Dara 87), Chaya, Njoku (S Pheng 56), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Visokra, Vanthan Sovan, Sophat, Sophanal, Sochivorn, Rathanak, H Pheng. Bookings: Sovannrithy, Sothearith.

Crown president Rithy Samnang and coach David Booth discuss the game
Thul Sothearith leads out his Crown teammates
The pre-match huddle for the Crown team and coach
Crown line-up for pre-match handshakes
Referee Tuy Vichhika with the two captains for the toss-up
Crown coach David Booth with Khim Borey, who Booth signed when he was at Sisaket


Anonymous said...

David Booth - an excellent, experienced coach with tactical nous and great team formation - using the speedsters 9 Chan Chhaya and 10 Kouch Sokhumpheak out wide - supporting either 20 Kingsley or 19 Sok Pheng upfront.

Plus the classy 14 Sovannrity showing just how good he is at right-back. The Army never looked a threat.

Can't wait to see the PPC versus Naga/Julius finale.

Anonymous said...

Andy, for the picture "Thul Sothearith leads out his Crown teammates". I saw you sit on the chair for taking this photo... :P

If i bring my Canon 5D, i will shoot you... sorry i forgot ...

Will borey back for PPCFC ?


Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Nimol,
I cannot comment on Khim Borey at the moment. Sorry.
yes I was feeling lazy so sat on the chair. walking up and down the grandstand steps is tiring :-)

Anonymous said...

Andy, Do the poor national coach consider Sovanrithy in his squad.

Andy Brouwer said...

Anon 3:53PM,
My understanding is that the football authorities in Cambodia decided that Sun Sovannrithy would not play for the national team again. He also missed a large chunk of football before he joined Crown, so he wasn't considered. However, the national coach is now concentrating on the SEA Games and Sovannrithy is too old.

Anonymous said...

Where's Khim Borey? The saga has gone on for long enough, and to think he hasn't ever played a game for Phnom Penh: and he's been out of the national team for so long now.

Andy Brouwer said...

I can make no comment on the Khim Borey situation until all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. It's a complicated situation. And Borey is the one who is kicking his heels. You gotta feel for the guy, one of the country's most talented players by a country mile, who deserves better treatment than this.