Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good practice

The Cambodian national U-14 team. This line-up is all-PPCFC except the keeper.
Sunday morning saw the Cambodian national team at U-14 level play the third of their practice matches as they prepare to travel to Malaysia for an AFC Festival of Football from 21 May until 3 June. Leading the national team is Phnom Penh Crown's Academy coach Bouy Dary and with wins over the U-14s of Prek Kdam and Prek Pra, he took his squad of 28 players to play the U-16s of Preah Khan Reach at their Kambol training ground. A stiff test for his youngsters against boys with much bigger physique and age on their side. That didn't deter the U-14s though, with the majority of the squad, eighteen in fact, coming from Dary's own team, the Crown Academy, and they are afraid of no-one. PKR took the lead in the first minute catching the keeper out with a lobbed shot over his head though that was all the scoring in the first of three thirty-minute halves. Playing an all-Crown team aside from the keeper in the 2nd half, the national team kept PKR pinned back in their own half and for lots of the time, in their own box, but without managing a breakthrough. Would you know it, but PKR lobbed the keeper again at the start of the third half and the only reply the national team could finally muster was a penalty by Ouk Sovann after Long Phearath was fouled late on. Dary was happy with the work-out against a physically-bigger team. PKR certainly take no prisoners and have developed a hard streak in all of their age-group teams, which earned them a couple of yellow cards in this match. At this age level it's a feature of their game that is very unattractive. They might say, you do what you do to win games, but at early teen ages surely it's better to play the game properly instead of relying on elbows, ankle-taps and shirt-pulling. I know how I like to see the youngsters playing the beautiful game and it's the Crown Academy way. After the game we retired to the bus laid-on by the football federation and the inside was awash with swarms of mosquitoes. I've never seen so many mosquitoes in one place before. If that wasn't bad enough, a mile down the road the cranky bus conked out and we were left on the side of the road, fifteen kilometres from town. We had to flag down a fleet of tuk-tuks and motodops to get back home. The federation strikes again. Helping Dary with the U-14s are his two assistants, Long Rithea (from the Army) and Ouk Mic (PKR), who until this season was the country's first-choice senior goalkeeper. Crown don't actually have a keeper in their Academy - it's a specialist position, so it was decided to do without one, with a couple of the boys always willing to don the gloves in matches. Three of the Crown Academy team were not included in the national set-up as they are younger than the others and will be eligible to play for the team next season, while Phoeun Sopheak is recovering from his knee injury.
The starting line-up for the first-half, includes six PPCFC boys

National coach Bouy Dary issuing team tactics

Ouk Sovann fires in a penalty kick to make it 2-1

Bouy Dary talking to his squad of players before the match begins

Two of the PPCFC contingent, Vat Samnang and Kim Chhaya

Some of the boys trying to avoid the scorching sun

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