Hearing the laughable news that the Federation officials had selected Chea Samnang (pictured) as their Metfone C-League Best Player of the Season reminded me that I selected my Best Team XI a few days before and of course the young Preah Khan Reach midfielder was nowhere to be seen. It's not his fault that the FFC have selected him, but absolutely no-one could've seen that coming, when other players have clearly had a much bigger impact, and consistently, on the season that has just finished. The young man, who I'm told is the captain of the national U-19 team, but looks like he should be lining up with the U-13 team, plays as a holding midfield player for PKR and I'm sure has a bright future ahead of him, but to flag him as the season's Best Player is quite simply, a humourless joke. Last season, they selected Keo Sokngorn, which was a much better decision and they appear to have developed a penchant for younger players, ignoring the much clearer claims of individuals like Kouch Sokumpheak, Sun Sopanha, Om Thavrak, Julius Oiboh and Khuon Laboravy. Anyway, back to my Best Team XI for the season. Here it is, for what it's worth, with players selected in their positions. I've viewed about 90% of the matches this season, so this selection is taking that into account. It's quite an attacking line-up with two wide men who have been used regularly as pseudo-strikers this season in Laboravy and Esoh, but in this team they'd have to do their share of back-tracking as well. With Sokumpheak happy to play literally anywhere, interchanging positions is not a problem. With Kumpheak from the Army returning to a regular starting place and doing very well, and Sopanha just shading Chhun Sothearath for a spot in the team, after the Crown skipper had a cracking second half of the season, there's creativity as well. In defence, Obadin has been a rock for Crown this season and with Rithy just pipping Om Thavrak for the position, I've also included two rampaging full-backs who can do damage to any team. Bunchhay's pick as Best Goalkeeper only confirmed my decision to select him over Sou Yaty, after his handling and shot-stopping improved this season. In Julius Oiboh, there would be a riot if I didn't include him, as he's battered defenders all season and been almost impossible to subdue. And my coach, would be David Booth, who else. With his record, this team would fear no-one.
GK: Peng Bunchhay (PPCFC)
DF: Pheak Rady (Army), Odion Obadin (PPCFC), Sok Rithy (PKR) , Sun Sovannrithy (PPCFC)
MF: Omogba Esoh (Naga), Oum Kumpheak (Army), Sun Sopanha (PPCFC), Khuon Laboravy (PKR)
FW: Kouch Sokumpheak (PPCFC), Julius Oiboh (Naga)
Coach: David Booth (PPCFC).
I hear Cambodia's national team coach Lee Tae-Hoon has selected 35 players in his pool for the forthcoming BIDC Cup (at home in October) and SEA Games (in Indonesia in November) competitions. The main aim is the latter, which is an U-23 competition, though the BIDC has been designated U-21, though I understand Cambodia will field an U-23 team. Confused? I am. I haven't seen the names of the 35 so I can't comment on them yet but I did hear that only one name, a striker, is from the Phnom Penh Crown camp. So if I read that right, just 1 name from the C-League champions, the team that won the league title, and it doesn't even include the league's best goalkeeper. Goodness me, I'm gonna have fun with this selection for sure. I wonder how many he's picked from relegated Prek Pra in his 35-man squad. There was a camera crew following the national coach around like a lost puppy dog at the final game of the season on Sunday. I'm told they're from South Korea but someone should tell them they're wasting their time. This is the man who presided over the complete failure of the Cambodian team to progress in three major cup competitions in the last twelve months and yet manages to secure a new 12-month contract, as his reward. Incredible.
The Phnom Penh Post match reports in recent weeks have been pissing me off. There's a definite desire by the Post's football reporter to dumb down Crown's achievements. For example, Crown staged a fabulous recovery yesterday on their way to picking up the championship, yet it was the Naga coach and his team who got the limelight and opening paragraphs in the match report. They finally managed to squeeze in a comment from Crown's successful coach David Booth at the end of the report. To be frank, he really needs to get his head out of his arse. Actually the coverage of the final game and the after-match presentations was piss poor, especially the photographs. It was relegated to the 4th page of sports news, overshadowed by international sport that didn't even include any Barclays football. Very disappointing. In saying that, at least they covered the game,whereby the Cambodia Daily could be printed in another country for all its coverage of local sport. On the subject of Naga Corp, I hear that their all arms and elbows striker Julius Oiboh is off to Thailand to join in the second half of their season. With the Golden Boot award under his arm for his massive 28-goal haul this season, he's certainly left a lasting impression on the C-League. It remains to be seen whether we see him back here in the future.