Saturday, August 4, 2012

Miserable afternoon

PPCFC line-up. Back Row LtoR: Lika, Rady, Dara, Frimpong, Njoku, Tiny. Front: Suhana, Seiha, Chaya, Vanthan, Borey. Click to enlarge.
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 Kirivong 3
On occasions, why is watching your favourite team like poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick? Because football is a game in which your team can look like world-beaters one week and then look like Sunday morning amateurs the next. That's the nature of the beast. And it's especially hard to swallow if your team is used to success, as it's a longer drop when things are simply not working out as you hope, and expect. Phnom Penh Crown had arguably their best ever season last year. This season, we started badly and have been playing catch-up ever since. But we haven't been quite good enough. Today for example, we had to win to keep the pressure on the clubs above us in the race for a top 4 play-off place at the season's end. We failed miserably to be honest. Crown started this afternoon's Metfone C-League game on the front foot and after Sos Nasiet got his foot in to deflect Chan Chaya's early shot, Crown took the lead on five minutes. Tieng Tiny's punt forwards saw two defenders clatter into the back of Kingsley Njoku, with the ball going over their heads and into the path of Sos Suhana, who wasted no time in dinking his chip over the head of Kirivong keeper Kun Thnou and into the empty net. So far so good for David Booth's team and Suhana had another chance two minutes later, but fired straight at the keeper. At the other end, Samrith Seiha had the start of an off-day with crosses, palming the ball to Ashola Abiding who volleyed over the bar from close-in. Soon after, Heng Kimhong's 25-yard free-kick bounced to safety after it thundered against the cross-bar before Kirivong levelled the scoreline on 25 minutes. In Vichheka used his body to turn Tieng Tiny thirty yards from goal and left the defender in his wake before finishing coolly. Four minutes later, he was johnny-on-the-spot when Seiha made a hash of catching a cross from Rada Meganed and Vichheka was left with a simple tap-in. Crown were shell-shocked and Abiding headed another deep cross wide of the upright soon after as Kirivong hit their strikers early and long. Frustration crept in and Njoku picked up a booking for a late tackle, though his impatience with referee Chi Samedy was plain for all to see. With Crown's midfield unable to function, Booth substituted Emmanuel Frimpong, back after suspension, and finished the half with five recognised strikers on the pitch.

Already behind, Crown's day went from bad to worse just seven minutes after the break. Njoku caught Touch Sokheang a little late and Samedy was lightning quick to flash a yellow and a red card to the Nigerian hitman, who trooped off the pitch and straight down the tunnel. Crown's mountain to climb had just become a lot more difficult to ascend. On the hour Hong Pheng took too long to unleash his shot and the opportunity was gone, and then Suhana scuffed his drive after a surging run by Pheak Rady. With twenty minutes to go, Seiha had to fist away a stinging shot from Ouk Thon and then made a spectacular tip over when Giwa Bolaji had time to powerfully head goalwards from Abiding's pull-back. Despite their ten men, Crown looked dangerous from Khim Borey's pinpoint corners with Chaya flashing a near post header across the face of goal. With just three minutes remaining, Souch Makara's deep cross avoided Tiny's head at the far post but Ek Sopheap was on hand to volley the ball past Seiha for the killer third goal. In time added on, Sopheap sent a dink wide of the target and Crown's Tiny couldn't force the ball in from another Borey corner as referee Samedy brought proceedings to a close.

Crown's hopes for a top 4 spot all but disappeared with this 3-1 reversal and left head coach David Booth scratching his head. "I can't understand it - it was just very poor. We started well, scored a good goal and then we went to pieces. We keep playing like this - it's not what we do in training, what we do at work, not how we plan things and it's not how we can play. Quite frankly, it's like I am wasting my time - they are not learning anything at all.
Emmanuel cannot play like that in our team. He's not marking, not supporting, not doing anything, not moving around, letting players go past him - he cannot play like that in my team. Kingsley's sending off was stupid, no need for it, just a stupid tackle. No reason to make a tackle like that. It just put us under more pressure.
It would be easy for me to turn around and say there were players missing today, we had injury and illness all week, but the players who come in and the others have got to show some work, some effort, some enthusiasm, some determination and discipline, but today everything was missing. We've worked and talked about it for two days at training. There's no excuse whatsoever." 
Crown line-up: Seiha, Rady, Vanthan (S Pheng 80), Lika, Tiny, Dara, Frimpong (H Pheng 37), Borey, Chaya, Suhana, Njoku. Subs not used: Ary, Da, Seyha, Sophanal, Asonibe, Rathanak. Bookings: Dara, Njoku (+ red card).
Crown huddle together before today's kick-off


Vichet said...

Mr Booth is missing the plot here. Deploying Khim Borey out wide is totally wrong. As one of if not the best finisher in Cambodia football he needs to be in and around the 18 yard box shooting at goal. It is a waste playing him out wide then play the ball inside to the like Chan Dara and his midfield co. who most of the time pass the ball back to a defender to play it long forward. Mr Booth needs to rethink how to utilize his best men.

Johnnie K. said...

Why the coach always blame players when the game lost? That's football - it is round - so anything can happen.

Just learn from the match and focus with the upcoming President Cup.

Anonymous said...

Vichet is right, Phnom Penh is a shadow of last year's team. Beaten twice this year by Kirivong! The shape is all wrong - the midfield looks very poor. Borey out wide and defender Chan Dara in the middle - both playing out of position. And Andy why coach Booth substitute Frimpong too early. BBU may well finish the season ahead of under-performing PPC!

Andy Brouwer said...

Finishing outside the top 4 after finishing 1st last season ....and you point out that the team isn't as good as last year. Anon, you are a genius! When the top team in the country doesn't live up to its reputation, then the knockers come knocking. That's the nature of the beast in football. It's rare that a team can win the championship every season in any league and so its proved for PPCFC this time around. We have to dust ourselves off and start again ready for next season, as far as the C-League is concerned.

Before that we have the little matter of the biggest Asian club championship we can enter, to contend with.

As for the make-up of the team, that's the coach's responsibility to mould a team with the available resources. We all have our different opinions who should be in, and who should be out. You can read David Booth's comments on my blog after each match. David never shy's away from giving his thoughts after the games. So you have his opinion which you can compare with your own. No other coach in the C-League does that. Not one.


Vichet said...

Andy I agree that the coach has to make best used of what resources he has. But the coach also has to play players where they are most effective. The best crown player in the BBU match was Sos Souhana. His passing and running was terrific. Except the person who received the pass was either Hong Pheng or his namesake Sok. Both have wonderful first touch just to be ironic. The person who should be receiving those passes is Khim Borey. His first touch is excellent and his finishing is arguably superior then anyone in the league. If it is a matter of playing the ball inside to Chan Dara Sok and Hong Pheng can do as good. Mr Booth needs to try new thing and with Njoku suspended next week, hope he can give Borey a run up front. Look how Chuon Chum benefit after moving to the center.

Anonymous said...

You are right Vichet! Your analysis is dead right re PPCs woes.... and on Saturday when Frimpong was substituted so early in the game, PPCs attacking midfielder Suhana was sent back in a position, too deep to be effective. And Andy your right, title-holders PPC should not necessarily be expected to win, but they should certainly be expected to challenge and get into the top 4 playoffs!

Andy Brouwer said...

I disagree with both Vichet and Anon 4:35PM. However, as the club's press officer I will hold my tongue, suffice to know that I disagree :-)