Sunday, September 18, 2011

My friend is my enemy

David Booth, the Crown coach, getting his players into the right frame of mind
A pep-talk from the Crown coach, David Booth, to his players at the national stadium
We had some fun and games at the national stadium this afternoon. A couple of hours earlier, at the press conference for the AFC President's Cup, the Neftchi coach had been very complimentary about Phnom Penh Crown, saying how well they'd hosted the qualifying stage and how strong Crown were as a team. He was then seen in the stands watching Crown's private training session on the main pitch and was asked to leave the arena by the AFC officials. Crown meet Neftchi from Kyrgyzstan in the first game of the final stages tomorrow at 4pm local time. However friendly the teams are off the pitch, and the relationship between Crown and Neftchi is based on mutual respect, when it comes to the actual competition, your best friend becomes your enemy. Crown coach David Booth announced himself happy with his team's 1-hour training session on the excellent stadium surface. "I was pleased with that session. We looked sharp, quick and hungry. We have the chance to make history tomorrow and that's what I've told the players. It's their time." It was the first look at the pitch for the players and staff at the 40,000-seater stadium, built in 2009 for the World Games. With a running track around it, and its futuristic ceiling cover which actually contains thousands of solar panels to capture the sun's energy, the stadium is pretty impressive in size and design.

At the earlier 2pm press conference at the Garden Villa Hotel, the coaches and team captains from the Group B teams, which are Crown, Neftchi and Yadanarbon faced the press. David Booth said; "We have a chance to promote Cambodian football, we are fortunate to be in this position, it doesn't happen too often. Cambodian teams are not renowned for travelling well outside Cambodia, we want to change that - though we know it will be very difficult. We know Neftchi are strong, we saw that in the qualifying round. Myanmar have the experience and are the team to beat, though all three teams have prepared properly and will want to put on a good exhibition for the competition. We are up against it a little bit, but that brings out the fight in you and I want that from my players. We want to raise the bar for Cambodia." Crown skipper Thul Sothearith also spoke; "
Thank you to the AFC and local organizing committee for the warm welcome we've been given. We know we will play against very strong teams but we have prepared very well and we will try our hardest to do well for ourselves and for Cambodia." The coach for Yadanarbon tried to play down his teams chances saying; "We are the defending champions, but I don't believe we have any advantage. All teams at this stage of the competition are difficult to play and we have studied our opponents beforehand." In the press conference for the Group A teams, the host team, Taiwan Power Company and their coach came out fighting, rejecting suggestions that his team lacked stamina or competitiveness. "We have a special training programme for our players, we will have the same stamina as everyone else and I will make them focus for the whole game, from the first to the last minute. I have no foreign players, nine national players but our playing style is a secret. We believe we can win this tournament, we are in front of our own fans and most important, we can show the Taiwanese spirit to the whole world." One piece of good news for Crown was that Yadanarbon's hotshot striker Yan Paing will miss the game against Crown on Wednesday after picking up two yellow cards in the qualifying stages. He must serve his 1-match suspension in the first game of the final round. Paing is the Myanmar national team's main striker and scored in all three games of the qualifying competition. He also made his U-23 debut for his country when David Booth was Myanmar's national team coach, so the two know each other well.
Crown skipper Thul Sothearith and coach David Booth at today's press conference
The six coaches from the 6 teams in the AFC President's Cup final stages
The coaches and captains from the three Group B teams
This is the trophy that everyone wants to win
A street sign advertising the AFC President's Cup final stage

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