Monday, November 12, 2012

Crown sink Naga

Khim Borey heads the game's only goal on 49 minutes
Coach Sam Schweingruber won't allow his young Phnom Penh Crown team to rest on their laurels after their 1-0 win over the vastly experienced Naga Corp this afternoon. Last season's beaten play-off finalists Naga have added even more know-how to their line-up but found Crown's youthful line-up a tough nut to crack. With just a few weeks together as a squad under their belt, Schweingruber will be pleased that his side won a tough battle against seasoned opponents in just their third outing under his control, before they head off to Vietnam for their pre-season tournament on Sunday. Practice matches like this are not necessarily good indicators for the coming season as teams try out new tactics and formations and make numerous changes in each match. Schweingruber will certainly err on the side of caution, with Naga creating nearly as many chances as his team, though it was Crown's most experienced player, Khim Borey, who was the difference, grabbing the only goal of the game four minutes into the 2nd half. For Naga, no less than 5 ex-Crown players were on the pitch at various intervals including new arrivals Tieng Tiny and Chan Dara, as well as Sun Sopanha, Sun Sovannrithy and San Narith.
The PPCFC line-up: Back Row LtoR: Borey, Pheng, Seyha, Boris, Rady, Srin. Front Row: Thierry, Makara, Da, Suhana, Seiha. Click to enlarge.

The match was played at Crown's RSN Stadium and it was Bin Thierry who offered up the first strike, playing in a central midfield role alongside fellow import Kok Boris, winning the ball off Om Thavrak and sending a low drive a foot wide after three minutes. Ngoy Srin was alert to divert a goal-bound shot from Kop Isa, before Leng Makara's header brought a diving save from Naga keeper Pich Rovinyothin. A raking cross-field pass from Khim Borey found Hong Pheng in space but his curler missed the upright by a yard. On 34 minutes, Borey raced onto a Boris through ball, headed over the stranded Rovinyothin and rolled the ball into the net. The referee initially awarded the goal, only to rule it out when he spotted the linesman's late flag. A few minutes later Thierry sent another long drive skidding wide before Boris thumped the ball from 25 yards out, only to see Rovinyothin throw himself full-length to his right to paw the ball away. Isa volleyed over the top to bring the first-half to a close.
The 2nd half opened up with Crown in control and within four minutes of the restart, Khim Borey ghosted into the six-yard box to head Bin Thierry's precise corner kick down and past an impotent Rovinyothin for the game's opening goal. Five minutes later and Borey's deft pass saw Leng Makara whip in a powerful drive which the keeper did well to block with his body and clear the danger. Twenty minutes gone and Crown conceded a free-kick just twenty yards from goal. Chuon Chum arched the ball over the wall and onto the post with Pen Stephane whacking the loose ball against the other upright as Naga came closest to scoring. With Kouch Dani probing from left-back, he tried his luck with two shots from outside the area, both going wide of the target. Srin was booked for pulling back Chhim Sambo and from the resulting free-kick, Tiny's punt was pushed over from under the bar by Yok Ary in the Crown goal. And that, in terms of chances, was it. Crown were visibly elated to have won against their much-favoured opponents and will take the positives from their battling qualities into the rest of their pre-season programme.
Crown line-up: Seiha (Ary 46 (Chamrouen 80)), Da, Seyha (Dani 62), Srin (Lika 83), Rady, Boris (Hasan 62), Thierry (Pisa 83), Suhana, Makara, Borey (Sothy 69), Pheng. Subs not used: Phearun, Kano, Dara, Morslim. Bookings: Srin.
The starting line-up for Naga Corp including ex-PPC Sopanha, Dara and Narith

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