Friday, September 28, 2012

Out of our depth

PPCFC line-up: Back LtoR: Dara, Vanthan, Rady, Frimpong, S Pheng, Tiny. Front: Sovanna, Suhana, Ary, Lika, Borey - click to enlarge
The curtain came crashing down tonight on Phnom Penh Crown's involvement in this year's AFC President's Cup with a second heavy defeat in three days, as they succumbed 6-0 to home favourites FC Istiklol, in front of a noisy crowd of 9,999. Behind to a single goal at the interval, the floodgates opened in the second half, as they had against Dordoi in the previous game, leaving Crown head coach David Booth a dejected figure at the post-match press conference. "I look at the two games, at how my team have played and its obvious we're out of our depth here this year. There's been a lot of changes in the club and perhaps it would've been better if we'd stayed at home. We made changes for today, our goalkeeper couldn't play, one or two positional changes but we've got young players, with absolutely no experience whatsoever, but its all we have. It's just embarrassing, I've never been in this situation before. To come here and be beaten like that twice - we're not good enough to be here. We had a couple of chances in the game but nothing that would hurt them. I'm quite embarrassed really with the two performances. My team were way below par, way below the standard that's required for this competition and the two teams that played against us didn't have to play at their best. Going on history, the home team usually wins this competition - I don't know who will win and I'm not really bothered now."

Forced to include Yok Ary in goal for the injured Samrith Seiha, David Booth also brought in Soeng Vanthan and Chhun Sovanna into midfield and Sok Pheng to partner Khim Borey in attack. Apart from a fine piece of handling from Ary to deny Makhmadali Sadykov, Crown were giving as good as they got until Istiklol captain Dilshod Vasiev escaped his marker on 26 minutes to rifle the ball into the top corner to send the big crowd into raptures. The home team required a point from the match to qualify for the final but were determined to put on a good show. However, they were so nearly caught out less than a minute later when Khim Borey and Sos Suhana exchanged passes which released Suhana into the box only to see goalkeeper Alisher Tuychiev block his shot, and with it Crown's best chance of the half. Ary was called upon to snuff out attempts by Davronjon Ergashev from all of forty yards, and Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev from much closer, whilst Ibragim Rabimov and Umedzhon Sharipov were a whisker away with their target practice just before half-time.

With 47 seconds on the clock of the second period, Ary had to be quick off his line to keep out Farkhod Tokhirov's shot with his feet but within two minutes of the restart, the half-time substitute had doubled Istiklol's lead. Ergashev's long-range shot took a deflection off Tokhirov's head and wrong-footed Ary, with the striker looking at least a couple of yards offside, but the match officials waved aside Crown's appeals and the home team fans rejoiced. Sok Pheng twice found space on the edge of the home penalty area, only for Tuychiev to collect his first shot easily enough and a defender charged down the second. In between, Sharipov took the ball off Hong Pheng's toe, bore down on goal and his swerving shot evaded Ary's dive for their third goal on 52 minutes. Six minutes later, Vi Lika failed to cut out a cross and Rabimov's aim was true from the edge of the box to extend his team's lead even further. Two minutes later and Khim Borey tried his luck from thirty yards, only to see his drive dip just over the crossbar. Most of the attacking intent was coming from Istiklol, though a great chance fell to Borey, when Emmanuel Frimpong's corner was headed down by Pheak Rady, only for goalkeeper Tuychiev to block Borey's shot with his body.

Istiklol continued to press forward, encouraged by their supporters and on 75 minutes they netted again. A jinking run by Alexander Frank allowed Fatkhuloev the time to pick his spot from twelve yards out and he made no mistake. Tieng Tiny's last-ditch tackle prevented Rabimov from adding to the tally but he wasn't to be denied and eight seconds into time added on, the Istiklol number 7 fired in from the edge of the box after more good work from Frank. Istiklol's tally of six goals without reply was food and drink to the home fans, whilst the Crown players trudged wearily from the pitch, having conceded 14 goals in their two cup matches. There were bookings for Vanthan, Frimpong and Tiny, with Frimpong selected by the host broadcaster for the post-match interview.
PPCFC line-up: Ary, Dara, Rady, Lika, Tiny, Suhana (Chaya 25), Frimpong, Vanthan, Sovanna (H Pheng 45), S Pheng (Sothy 67), Borey. Subs not used: Seiha, Sovan, Makara. Bookings: Vanthan, Frimpong, Tiny.

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