Saturday, April 30, 2011
The only event of note in the 1st half of the Preah Khan versus Kirivong encounter was the opening Kirivong goal on 41 minutes. In Vichheka sent Nelson Oladiji racing away and his well-taken drive from the edge of the box stretched the PKR net, as well as their patience as the whole team and head coach claimed the Kirivong striker was yards offside. Referee Tuy Vichhika was having none of it. PKR restored parity just a minute and a half into the 2nd period. Lay Raksmey's floated cross found the head of Khuon Laboravy, but his header struck the foot of the upright only for Tum Saray to turn the rebound over the goal-line. Kirivong refused to lie down and after Oladiji was thwarted by keeper Ouk Mic, he made no mistake on 63 minutes with a tap-in after Vichheka has weaved his way to the byeline and delivered an unmissable opportunity. An accidental clash with his own defender saw Kirivong keeper Khoum Makara stretchered off and within two minutes of his arrival, in the 73rd minute, his replacement Koun Thnou could only divert Laboravy's shot inside the post to make it 2-2. This time it was Kirvong's turn to protest at the absence of an offside flag, but to no avail. Both teams had a chance at the death when Oladiji was again denied by Mic and Prak Mony Udom had time to pick his spot but only managed to find the head of Bryan Edem on the goal-line instead. Laboravy raced clear again well into injury time but the tackle of the game by Touch Sokheng made sure the two teams shared the points.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
21 May: 1.30pm Neftchi (KGZ) v Abahani (BAN): 4pm PPCFC v Don Bosco (SRI)
23 May: 1.30pm Don Bosco (SRI) v Neftchi (KGZ): 4pm Abahani (BAN) v PPCFC
25 May: 1.30pm Abahani (BAN) v Don Bosco (SRI): 4pm PPCFC v Neftchi (KGZ)
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
A minute after the half-hour mark and Nuth Sinoun made amends with a toe-poke goal after the Naga defence decided to go AWOL. His teammate Nhim Sovannara was lucky to stay on the pitch after he brought down Kop Isa on 38 minutes. Keeper Proshim made a hash of a clearance, Isa was in on goal and Sovannara fouled him and must've expected a red card. No such luck, as Bunthoeun dropped a real clanger and only flashed a yellow version. Bad call. As the half-time whistle approached, the referee got another incident badly wrong. He must've missed Rim Bunhieng's kick on Naga's Chea Virath, though he definitely saw Virath's retaliatory strike that nearly floored the BBU defender. As the players joined in the melee, Nuth Sinoun, known for his short fuse, entered the fray with a push. The match official didn't bother to consult anyone, simply waving his red card at Virath and then at Sinoun, forgetting Bunhieng's part in the fracas. The half ended in uproar with BBU moaning the loudest, Bunhieng nursing a swollen eye and Virath menacingly wagging his finger at the BBU bench. With the 2nd half just two minutes old, BBU drew level. Oum Chandara swung his right foot 25 yards out and his shot arrowed into the top corner before Mak Theara could move. The game's finest moment without a doubt.
Naga then introduced Srey Veasna into the action, which had me raising my eyebrows again, as it did when Veasna was employed by BBU for the Hun Sen Cup Final a few weeks ago. The fact that Veasna plays for Loei City in the Thai 2nd Division and then pops over to Cambodia for the odd game or three when he feels like it, seems to fly in the face of FIFA regulations. I can only assume he's not on a contract in Thailand and was registered by Naga weeks before the start of the season, before the registration window closed (which of course he didn't as he was with BBU; I'm being facetious). Can someone at the federation, please explain how a player can play in two countries' national competitions for 3 different teams in the space of a few weeks. I asked him after the game if he was still playing in Thailand and he said he was. As the game wore on, both teams looked knackered, even the BBU keeper had to be replaced with cramp and Naga fluffed two chances, through Chin Chum (thanks to a great stop by substitute Hem Simay) and Kop Isa in the dying moments. And that was it, 2-2 and honours even as 22 players collapsed with exhaustion at the final whistle. I even spotted the national coach taking notes for the 1st time this season, probably working out whether Srey Veasna can get a couple more clubs under his belt before he gets a place in his national squad again.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Following hot on the heels of their next three C-League games, Crown will then host six Group A qualifying matches of the AFC President’s Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, in cooperation with the Football Federation of Cambodia. This cup competition pits together the league champions of Asia’s emerging nations and it’s the first time that Cambodia has hosted such a prestigious regional competition. The league champions of Kyrgyzstan (Neftchi Kochkor-Ata), Bangladesh (Dhaka Abahani Limited) and Sri Lanka (Don Bosco SC) will be challenging Crown for the two qualifying places in the six-team finals to be played later this year.
“As far as the President’s Cup matches are concerned, we need to be in good shape physically and the players need to be focused on their job. Rest and recovery between games will be very important too, as we will play three games in five days. The Kyrgyzstan team is the overall favourite to win the tournament, not just our group. The Bangladesh team is very experienced, they hardly lose games and it will be tough against them because of that. The Sri Lankan team is at our level and because we are at home, we will be favourites to win. We play Don Bosco from Sri Lanka in the 1st game, which is very important. Normally they say that it’s important not to lose the 1st game but a victory can give a morale boost to our team, so that’s what we’ll be aiming to do."
"We meet Abahani in the 2nd match. Again, our advantage is that we are playing at home and I really hope the stadium will be full of our supporters because the game is important not only for the fans of Phnom Penh Crown but for Cambodian football overall. The support of the fans can sometimes count as a 12th man on the pitch. That's what we want to happen. Our final match will be against the Kyrgyz champions, Neftchi, who according to my sources are very fit, well disciplined and tactically good, with good foreign players and a knowledgeable coach. Their main strength is their defence, having lost only one match all of last season. I am not surprised they are seeded number 1, however their disadvantage is that they have never played club football at an international level and sometimes this can make a difference. In addition, our weather is very different from theirs, it's a little too hot for them, so we shall see how they cope with that."
The AFC President's Cup program looks like this:
21 May: 2pm: Phnom Penh Crown v Don Bosco (SRI). 4pm: Neftchi (KGZ) v Abahani (BAN)
23 May: 2pm: Don Bosco (SRI) v Neftchi (KGZ). 4pm: Abahani (BAN) v Phnom Penh Crown
25 May: 2pm: Phnom Penh Crown v Neftchi (KGZ). 4pm: Abahani (BAN) v Don Bosco (SRI)
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
There's a frontpage story in today's Cambodia Daily about what they term envelope journalism which I must admit is something that has really got my goat since I became aware of it. Essentially, its the practice of paying reporters cash to attend media events. So for example, to get newspaper reporters to watch the football at the weekend and to report on it, the football federation has to pay them. The same goes for television reporters. In fact the federation has to pay the tv stations to show live games - which is completely arse about face of what happens in England for example, where the television companies pay a king's ransom for the pleasure of screening live football. The excuse for this practice is that it's seen as a Cambodian tradition, it's a gift to oil the wheels so to speak, even though essentially it's a form of bribery which is regarded as 'grave professional abuse' under the Press Law. Another excuse is that as the journalists are paid so poorly by their employers, this extra support money helps them make ends meet. That may be the case but the integrity, impartiality and professionalism of journalism in Cambodia will never move forwards unless these practices cease and reporters are paid a fair wage for a fair day's work.
Whilst I am in a rare moaning mood, I find it so disappointing that sport in Cambodia's public schools is either non-existent or barely scratches the surface. It's clear to anyone with a brain that providing regular sport and exercise in schools is a winner for all concerned, yet from speaking to many people, they had precisely zero exercise during their schooling days, whether in the city or in a more rural setting. How Cambodia will ever hope to do well on the sporting front if they don't encourage children to get involved and develop an appetite for sport, is beyond me. This should be an essential element of every child's schooling and it should be one of the main goals of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to make sure it happens. Clearly, from speaking to everyone, that is not happening. Rather than just mouth off about it, I hope to be able to do something constructive in the future through Phnom Penh Crown football club. I'll let you know how this pans out.
Friday, April 15, 2011
To achieve this, the federation must set a timeline for this basic but major step forward to be completed. A maximum of five years from now, all of the ten teams in the premier division of the C-League must have their own home ground or stadium and be capable of playing competitive matches in both the league and cup competitions, safely and in line with a set of criteria, that would include a suitable playing surface and practice area, changing room facilities, floodlights and both seated and standing terraces. Obviously that would be a massive leap for many clubs to achieve as we stand today. Perhaps only the Army, who have the Old Stadium as their headquarters, would be in a position to make that move right now. Though teams like Phnom Penh Crown, who own their training ground in Tuol Kork and who have room to expand, could achieve it in a fairly short time frame. For others it would take a while longer and without a firm financial commitment of sponsors and benefactors, not to mention paying supporters coming through the turnstiles, then for some it would be impossible to make it happen. Some clubs will fall by the wayside, others will rise to meet the challenge, but its a step that Cambodian football must take in my view, and one which they should put in motion sooner than later.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Though Crown managed to find the net on nine occasions yesterday, they missed another half dozen presentable chances in the first half and no less than a dozen opportunities after the break. Perhaps the most glaring was in the last minute of the first half when Suong Virak set up Kouch Sokumpheak for a virtual tap-in, but he managed to poke his shot against the upright and away to safety. It was an awful miss and he knew it. The same player had five more chances after the break but his goal-scoring touch had truly deserted him as he because more and more frantic in his attempts on goal. But it was Sokumpheak, regarded as one of the country's best marksmen for the last few seasons, who had opened up the floodgates on 10 minutes, when he was on hand to whack a loose ball past the Rithysen keeper after teammate Kingsley Njoku had failed with two attempts, the second one rebounding off the post straight to his fellow striker who made no mistake. A minute later it was Sokumpheak's visionary 30-yard pass that gave Sun Sopanha the opportunity to fire in an unstoppable shot from a tight angle for number two.
After both Sopanha and Virak had missed, we then enjoyed the eight-minute Kingsley show, where the striker's touch turned to gold with a whistle-stop hat-trick that almost took your breath away. He had Sopanha to thank for his first, with a perfect pass across the face of goal for the Nigerian to add the finishing touch. A hopeful punt forward by Kenneth Nwafor then saw Kingsley use his strength to knock off two defenders, dance his way around the keeper and walk the ball over the line. For his third, the muscly goal-machine took advantage of a defensive blunder to arrow home his hat-trick goal from 10 yards. With everyone expecting him to demonstrate his somersault prowess, he merely collected the ball and calmly returned it to the centre-circle. Rithysen replaced their keeper, Sam Vibol with the more experienced Oum Veasna almost immediately. I think back-ache was the cause.
On the half-hour Rithysen's Tam Yousos brought down Kingsley in what looked like a penalty but the referee pointed to an inch outside the box instead. With all eyes on a Tieng Tiny thunderbolt, Suong Virak stepped up, picked his spot and arrowed his free-kick into an unguarded corner of the net. Five minutes before the break, Rithysen's day went from bad to worse when Yousos was shown a 2nd yellow card, plus a red one, for clattering into Chan Dara, leaving his teammates with a veritable mountain to climb.
Virak was again on target just four minutes after the interval, homing in on a threaded San Narith pass and kept his cool to fire a low shot under the body of Veasna. Then came a string of misses that included two Njoku attempts that brought out the best in Veasna, two more Virak chances that would've seen him claim a hat-trick and a succession of opportunities that Sokumpheak failed to cash in. Sok Pheng replaced Njoku and scored with a ferocious drive from 2o yards that gave Veasna no chance, whilst another substitute, Hong Ratana, finished off a smart Pheng cross with a tap-in to take the score to 9-nil in the first minute of injury time. A tenth goal would've given the Crown squad an extra day's holiday over New Year but they failed to reach double figures.
Two decisions by the officials also meant Crown had to disrupt their team make-up during the game. A booking for Kenneth Nwafor on twelve minutes for an innocuous tackle took away his bite in the middle of the park and he was subbed at half-time. Just after the hour, Sun Sopanha had a minor altercation with the Rithysen bench. It had died down when the 4th official, Yien Kivatanak called the referee over and recommended a booking for Sopanha, even though match referee Sang Sopheak had seen it all. Sopanha was replaced almost straightaway. On the one occasion Rithysen did breach the Crown backline, after a miscue by Dara, Hong Visokra's strong right-hand kept out a vicious Seth Kamel drive. It was too little too late and the team from Kompong Chhnang will have gone home to lick their wounds from this hammering.
Crown line-up: Visokra, Dara, Sothearith, Tiny, Obadin, Narith, Nwafor (Narong 45), Sopanha (Ratana 69), Virak, Sokumpheak, Njoku (S Pheng 77). Subs not used: Bunchhay, Bunna, Sophat, Sochivorn, H Pheng, Sophanal.
Booked: Nwafor, Sopanha, Ratana.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Preah Khan Reach were held at 1-1 by surprise package Chhlam Samuth in Sunday's opening Metfone C-League game. There was little to choose between the sides in the 1st half before Khuon Laboravy brought the game to life with a brilliantly-crafted solo effort on 55 minutes, when he weaved his way past four defenders and slipped his shot past Sam Chamroeun from ten yards. It was the stuff you normally see from the likes of Barcelona's Leo Messi, it was that good. PKR then sat back and allowed newcomers Chhlam Samuth, poked and prodded by the evergreen Pov Samnang, to get a foothold in the game. They didn't let-up and netted the equaliser on 71 minutes. A poorly cleared corner fell to Samnang and his low drive was deflected goalwards by substitute Maxwell Woko before spinning off the heel of PKR's Sok Rithy and wrong-footing keeper Sar Sophea in goal. That's how it stayed as one of the league's favourites were held to their 2nd draw in two games.
Phnom Penh Crown were in no mood to allow one of the new teams, Rithysen from Kompong Chhnang, an easy ride in their 2nd game of the C-League season. After 34 minutes of the 1st half, Crown led 6-0 after literally tearing the opposition defence into tatters. Urged by their head coach to start strongly, the Crown players followed his word to the letter with Kingsley Njoku netting a hat-trick in the space of eight minutes. Kouch Sokumpheak was the first to hit the target, in the 10th minute after Njoku had fluffed a guilt-edged opportunity by hitting the post from three yards out. Sun Sopanha rifled in a second a minute later before Njoku scored his first in the 18th minute. Two minutes later he battled with two defenders, and won, before rounding the keeper to walk the ball over the line. Another four minutes and he was on hand to turn in Sopanha's inviting pass. Sadly for the crowd the Nigerian striker failed to celebrate his goals with the acrobatic somersault that we saw in week 1. Suong Virak arrowed a free-kick past replacement keeper Oum Veasna on 34 minutes to complete the first-half scoring spree. After the break, Crown began in the same fashion with another goal from Virak after four minutes, but they then went through a spell where they missed more than a dozen chances, the chief culprit being Sokumpheak. A combination of poor finishing and the fine form of Oum Veasna was frustrating teh Crown attack until sub Sok Pheng rifled in a stunning 20 yard effort on 83 minutes and Hong Ratana sidefooted from close range in the 1st minute of time added on. 9-0 was the final result and Crown go into a three week hiatus with their first win of the new campaign. Their coach Bojan Hodak says the rest will do them a power of good. "We need the break from playing and training, most of our players, especially from the national team have been training for five months without a rest, so the break will freshen them up."
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Phnom Penh Crown head coach Bojan Hodak watched the midweek Rithysen defeat and commented; "I am expecting us to win. I think Rithysen are not at our level but we need to prove this on the pitch. If you underestimate any opponent you can be in trouble, so we need to go all out from the first whistle on Sunday." Hodak has three players on the medical treatment table, with new signing Sun Sovannrithy, a real doubt. "Ty began light training on Thursday after a few days rest with his knee injury, so he's likely to miss Sunday's game. Phoung Narong has a lower back problem though he's making progress and should be okay, but Chim Rathanak is a definite absentee. He's begun jogging but he's not yet doing any ball work. The three-week break after Sunday's game will also allow our national team players to recover from their recent heavy schedule."
There were two unexpected results from week 1 of the new C-League season. A late goal from Say Piseth gave newcomers National Police Commissary a deserved 2-1 victory over Naga Corp on Sunday, but perhaps the biggest shock was the midweek 3-2 success by another new outfit, Chhlam Samuth over the Hun Sen Cup finalists BBU. Pov Samnang scored two classy goals for the former Navy team. Kirivong proved too strong for Prek Pra Keila, winning 3-0 and Nelson Oladiji netting a brace of goals. We already know that Crown drew 2-2 in their crunch game with Preah Khan Reach and Sunday's opponents, Rithysen, were on the wrong end of a 6-0 drubbing by the Army, for whom substitute Phlong Chanthou scored the season's first hat-trick.
After 21 goals in 5 matches in week 1, for week 2 of the Metfone C-League campaign, the Army meet Kirivong and the National Police take on Prek Pra in Saturday's two matches, with Preah Khan Reach facing surprise package Chhlam Samuth in the first game on Sunday. The final match of week 2 will be held over until 23 April when Naga Corp face BBU.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Twelve minutes into the 2nd half and Chhlam Samuth were celebrating once again. Pov Samnang showed classy control and a neat finish as he put his side 3-1 ahead after Sanni found him with a 30-yard pass. Within two minutes BBU gave themselves a lifeline when Pech Sina headed in Chan Veasna's free-kick and it looked like they'd turned the corner. A long distance Veasna chip was tipped over the top, Putsethy rattled the cross-bar from the edge of the box and Sina had two chances go astray as BBU huffed and puffed but couldn't break down the Navy defences. The dejected faces of the student team said it all at the final whistle; reputations count for nothing in football and there's always hope for the underdog.