|PPCFC starting line-up v PKR. Back Row (LtoR): Srin, Thierry, Pheng, Hasan, Lika, Seiha. Front Row: Makara, Da, Suhana, Dani, Boris. Click to enlarge|
Pre-season practice matches are exactly that, warm-up sessions ahead of the upcoming new season. Earlier this afternoon, Phnom Penh Crown stepped onto their own soggy RSN Stadium pitch to play their second warm-up game, this time against Preah Khan Reach, one of the teams that will join Crown on their Vietnam adventure in a week's time. Age-wise, there was little to choose between the two teams, with PKR just shading it as the younger of the two, though their team has played together for the past couple of years, whilst Crown's line-up has been together a matter of weeks. That should please Crown coach Sam Schweingruber when he reflects on how the game turned out, with the home team going behind, but recovering quickly and getting the lion's share of the chances created. They were without their experienced duo of Khim Borey (groin) and Kouch Sokumpheak (knee ligament). The first opportunity of the game came on ten minutes as Leng Makara headed a Thourng Da free-kick wide of the far post. Preah Khan then took the lead with their first real thrust as Crown lost possession and Sok Chanraksmey broke into the Crown box before slotting neatly wide of Samrith Seiha on 17 minutes. Seven minutes later and Crown were level after some penalty box trickery by French-Khmer import Kouch Dani. Hong Pheng's shot was blocked and the ball squirmed out to Mart Hasan, who laid the ball back into the path of the onrushing left-back Dani. With his quick-feet and futsal ball control, Dani sidestepped two defenders and unleashed a powerful drive from fifteen yards out that the PKR keeper couldn't keep out. 1-1. Pheng had a shot blocked soon after and then played in Sos Suhana, but the national teamer was almost too precise with his finish, and it rolled the wrong side of the upright. With half-time approaching, Suhana fired in a low cross-shot which Kok Boris was inches away from applying the finishing touch, and then Hasan stung the fingers of the PKR keeper from 25 yards out. Half-time arrived with the scores level.
Six minutes after the interval, Makara's pace took him away from his marker and a poor defensive clearance teed-up Boris with a 20-yard pile-driver that flashed inches wide. The remainder of the match failed to live up to its first-half promise, with both coaches making a series of personnel changes, and though PKR visibly tired in the latter stages, Crown couldn't quite take advantage with Hasan squandering their best chance, firing high and wide as he surged into the penalty box. Prak Mony Udom wasted PKR's best opening, also firing too high on the turn. So bragging rights were shared, though Schweingruber will feel the happier of the two coaches, knowing his team can get a lot better. Picking out the best Crown player on show, I would share it between Boris and Hasan in central midfield, though Dani's goal was a cracker and his presence in a midfield role late in the game, could've very nearly won it for the home team.
Crown line-up: Seiha (Ary 46), Da, Dani, Srin (Dara 85), Lika (Rady 57), Boris (Sothy 72), Hasan, Suhana (Phearun 51 (Pisa 77)), Makara, Thierry (Seyha 77), Pheng. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Kano, Morslim. Booking: Pisa
|Coach Sam Schweingruber explaining his point of view, alongside Bouy Dary|
|Half-time team-talk in the shade|
|A free-kick by Kouch Dani|
|Crown's scorer v PKR, Kouch Dani|
|Pre-match sprints for Bin Thierry and Leng Makara|
|Pre-match warm-up for Makara and Kok Boris|