Crown in the 1st half. Back Row LtoR: Njoku, Narith, Sopanha, Dara, Obadin, Visokra. Front Row: Ota, Virak, Ratana, Vanthan, SothearithCrown at the start of the 2nd half. Back Row LtoR: Sovan, H Pheng, Tiny, Rathanak, Sokumpheak, Bunchhay. Front Row: Borey, Chaya, Sophat, Sovannrithy, Sophanal
Phnom Penh Crown finished their match preparation for their AFC President's Cup challenge, which begins on Monday in Taiwan, with a straightforward demolition of the Cambodian U-23 squad for the second time in six days. Crown's Tuol Kork RSN Stadium was the venue for this afternoon's practice match and 3-1 was the final result after the U-23's took an early lead. For Crown head coach David Booth it was a confidence booster for his side. "We won the game well today, they never really had a shot or any clear-cut chances. That will give our team a great deal of satisfaction, will be good for confidence, having used all of our players and beat them so comprehensively, we can build on that." Crown now have two more training days before they spend most of Saturday travelling to Taiwan. The coach continued; "Preparation-wise we’ve had two games against the national team where I tried to give as many players game-time, so mentally and physically they are all ready to play. We won both games too, which is always a nice thing to do. It’s not been ideal though as there’s some confusion as to which players can go. The uncertainty has not been good preparation for such an important couple of matches. We are still trying to get it sorted and we’re just three days away from travelling." The uncertainty surrounds visas for Crown's Nigerian players, which they are hoping to finally resolve tomorrow.
For this afternoon's game, the Crown coach mixed and matched his line-up in both halves and saw his side dominate for most of the match after an initial spell of pressure by the national team. Khuon Laboravy gave the U-23's a 7th minute lead through a stroke of fortune as Odion Obadin's header struck his head and the ball looped over Hong Visokra in the Crown goal. Laboravy wasn't complaining. A minute later Suong Virak spurned an obvious opportunity to equalize by spooning his close range touch over the cross-bar. On 26 minutes Crown levelled through Hong Ratana, who rolled his shot inside the far post after Kingsley Njoku won the ball and cushioned a pass for Ratana to run onto. 1-1 at the interval with both coaches making numerous changes at half-time. After the break is was all one-way traffic with Sun Sovannrithy striding purposefully into the U-23's box on two occasions but not finding the right finish to punish the opposition. Thirty minutes into the second half and U-23 keeper Sar Sophea tipped Chim Rathanak's 25-yard drive over the bar. From the resulting Rathanak corner, Sovannrithy looped his header onto the cross-bar and was first to react as it dropped down, firing an unstoppable volley into the top corner. With four minutes remaining, a piece of Kouch Sokumpheak trickery released Chan Chaya and he cut inside before netting with a low drive past Sophea. In time added on, Crown could've extended their 3-1 lead when first Chim Ratahanak broke clear but shot weakly at Sophea instead of passing to an unmarked Khim Borey. A few minutes later, Sokumpheak raced clear and unselfishly fed the ball into the path of Odion Obadin, who sidefooted the ball over the top of a gaping open goal, much to the amusement of his teammates.
Crown: Visokra (Bunchhay 46), Dara (Sophanal 46), Vanthan (Sovannrithy 46), Sothearith (Sovan 46), Obadin (Tiny 46 (Obadin 65)), Narith (Sophat 46), Ota (Borey 46), Sopanha (Sokumpheak 46), Ratana (Rathanak 46), Virak (Nwafor 13 (Chaya 46)), Njoku (H Pheng 34 (S Pheng 78)).
Cambodia U-23's: Yaty (Sophea 46), Rady (Dalin 33), Pancharong (Sokly 80), Piseth (K Vannak 46), S Rithy (Piseth 80), Sothearath (Chansothea 46), S Makara (Kumpheak 32), Chhoeurn (Souhana 46), Soksana (Phearith 46), Saray (E Vannak 46 (Chhoeurn 78)), Laboravy (S Udom 46).
Cambodia U-23s. Back Row LtoR: Piseth, Rady, S Rithy, Soksana, Makara, Laboravy. Front Row: Pancharong, Yaty, Sothearath, Saray, Chhoeurn