Sunday, May 13, 2012

A good test on paper

The Cambodia U-14s start the 2nd half of today's game v PKR U16s
I'm just back from watching the Cambodian U-14 national team play their final warm-up match, ahead of their AFC Festival of Football trip to Malaysia in eight days time, and I'm still fuming. The opposition was the U-16s of Preah Khan Reach, taller and stronger, and therefore on paper a good test for the more diminutive U-14s. But that's really where the positives end as Preah Khan Reach really need to take a good look at themselves and the way they approach their football. They take gamesmanship to a new level for a team so young, grabbing the ball when they concede a free-kick, off-the-ball threats, elbows, shirt-pulling, sly kicks and strong-arm tactics that a kickboxer would be proud of. It doesn't make for good family viewing that's for sure and certainly not the style of football I'm interested in watching at youth level. When they bother to play football, they are a good passing team but they spoil it all with their negativity and hard-man routine. Today's referee didn't help either. He flashed at least four yellow cards at Preah Khan players but turned a blind eye when their keeper fly-hacked Chhuot Senteang as he was through on goal in the final minutes. Senteang was crying as he was carried off the pitch and the disgraceful challenge may now ruin his dream of going to Malaysia. The match was played in three thirty minute halves to allow a good run-out for all 28 boys in the U-14 national squad - 18 of which were from the Phnom Penh Crown Academy. The first half was goalless before PKR used their height advantage to head home from a lofted corner. Twenty minutes into the second half and Yeu Muslim equalized with a stunning 20-yard free-kick that sailed into the top corner. Three minutes into the third half and PKR scored again though it was clearly offside but the goal was allowed to count. At the other end Senteang struck the bar and In Sodavid went agonizingly close before the referee failed to do his duty and allowed PKR to see the game out with eleven players and record a 2-1 win. National U-14 coach Bouy Dary will soon reduce his final squad to 22 players before the youngsters depart for the Malaysia tournament, against the likes of Australia, Vietnam, Thailand as well as hosts Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and which begins on 21 May.
The starting line-up in the first half

This Cambodia U-14 line-up began the third half of this morning's match

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