Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crown sunk

PPCFC v Dordoi. Back Row LtoR: Tiny, Dara, Obadin, Sovan, S Pheng, Ary. Front: Rady, Sothy, Suhana, Borey, Sokumpheak
As Phnom Penh Crown and Kyrgyzstan's Dordoi took to the field, the rain began. By the second minute it was a torrential storm and after 18 minutes referee Sukhbir Singh from Singapore had seen enough and called a temporary halt to proceedings, taking the teams back to their dressing rooms. It was the final match of Group B of the AFC President's Cup qualifying round. Both Crown and Dordoi had already qualified with two wins apiece so the game would decide which team could have the bragging rights of winning the group. The downpour put paid to any hopes of a football match decided by anything other than who would adapt better to the conditions. Football as we know it, was not possible and it was more like a children's kick-and-rush game than a cup match in Asia's third tier of club competition. Referee Singh gave it thirty minutes before he called the two teams back out to continue, though large pools of water covered the surface of the Olympic Stadium and the rain continued to fall. It's easy to say, but the match became a lottery and the team that made the least mistakes was the likely victor. Before the temporary break, Dordoi had looked dangerous early on with top scorer Mirlam Murzaev giving Odion Obadin the slip but screwed his shot across the face of goal and wide. A couple of minutes later, Murzaev's first-time touch set Kaiumzhan Sharipov free down the center but Crown keeper Yok Ary was off his line quickly to block his shot. After eleven minutes, Kouch Sokumpheak's left-foot shot was kept out by Dordoi keeper Pavel Matiash's outstretched foot as the Crown skipper was put in by Sok Pheng. And that was about it before referee Singh called the two captains together and decided a break from the teeming rain was in order.

Thirty minutes later the two teams emerged to the applause of the 5,531 crowd and Sokumpheak was the first to benefit from the conditions, when he latched onto a sliced kick from Daniel Tagoe, sidestepped Matiash but his rolled shot from an acute angle got stuck in a puddle. Just after the half-hour, Yok Ary's outstretched leg diverted Anderson de Souza's goalbound effort and he was on his feet when Talant Samsaliev's forty-yard punt went straight into his arms. An Ary drop-kick found Khim Borey is space but he could only whip his effort into the side-netting from an angle, while Murzaev hit a 25-yarder a few feet wide, his last action of the game as he was carried off on the stroke of half-time. After the restart, Sok Pheng blazed over from distance and Sharipov was off target at the other end. Yok Ary was down smartly to deny de Souza after referee Singh had waved play on despite Pheak Rady being flattened in the build-up. On the hour, Sokumpheak's vision and fifty-yard cross-field pass set Sok Pheng  away but his powerful drive went straight to Matiash. With Dordoi using their aerial prowess to good effect, Crown were forced to defend more than attack and a diving header from Vadim Khrachenko flashed a few feet wide, while David Tetteh's shot was gathered safely by Ary.

On 68 minutes Sos Suhana and Sokumpheak combined tidily to give Suhana an opening, but again Matiash was fully behind the low drive. Soon after, Sokumpheak lent back and sent a shot well over the top as both teams made substitutions in an effort to break the deadlock. With three minutes remaining, Sok Sovan fed Sokumpheak and his 20-yard stinging drive went the wrong side of the upright. A minute later, Pheak Rady hesitated with his clearance, then caught the ankle of David Tetteh just inside the penalty area, and though he initially allowed play to continue, referee Singh brought play back, awarded a spot-kick and cautioned Rady. After two minutes of treatment for Yok Ary, Azamat Baimatov's penalty kick just crept under the goalkeeper's despairing dive and Dordoi had won the game with virtually the last kick. Gut-wrenching for Crown to have fought so well and to lose at the last gasp, as Dordoi claimed the top spot in Group B with three straight victories. Crown coach David Booth commented in the aftermatch press conference; "It was a good game by both teams given the conditions. I thought we were quite comfortable for most of the game, we dealt with everything right up until the last thirty seconds...our fitness was good, we just lost concentration at the very last moment...The referee was correct to bring us off, it was impossible, it was a danger....I was happy with 90 minutes but not happy with the last thirty seconds. It was a shame really as it spoiled a lot of hard work."
PPCFC v Dordoi: Ary, Rady, Sovan, Tiny, Obadin, Sothy, Dara, Suhana, S Pheng (H Pheng 73), Borey, Sokumpheak. Subs not used; Chamrouen, Vanthan, Lika, Sophanal, Seyha, Sovanna, Makara. Bookings: Rady.
Last minute team huddle

The Dordoi starting XI
It's pouring with rain during the match


Anonymous said...

Good effort. Stupid rain.

Anonymous said...

You can't blame mother nature.