|PPCFC v Korea All Stars. Back Row LtoR: Srin, Thierry, Hasan, Pheng, Rady, Boris. Front: Da, Suhana, Seiha, Dani, Borey (capt) - click to enlarge.|
Phnom Penh Crown never gave up and it paid dividends at the end of today's pre-season friendly match against the Korea All Stars Union team. A minute into time added on and Leng Makara stole in to fire home the match-winner as Crown beat the Korean tourists 2-1 in front of a packed grandstand at the Olympic Stadium. A draw had looked likely after a goal apiece early on and then a series of missed opportunities for the home side had threatened to frustrate the big crowd. Cue substitute Leng Makara who raced onto a lob over the last defender by Chhom Pisa, took a touch and then fired past the Korea goalkeeper from ten yards and wheeled away to receive the congratulations of his colleagues. It was no more than Crown merited, as their head coach Sam Schweingruber remarked. "We deserved to win, we played quite well especially with the ball up front; we have to work on capitalizing our chances but we created enough chances and moved the ball around well up front. Without the ball, we must do better. Our game plan was to not give them opportunities in our own third and we did that. 2nd half they had only two chances in and around the box. We played quite well individually but not enough as a team unit." So a happy coach but well aware that there is still work to do to bring his Crown squad to the boil at the right time. With more than two weeks before their first Hun Sen Cup match, Schweingruber will look to get at least a couple more practice matches under their belt.
With strong opposition in front of them - the Korean starting line-up boasted at least seven players with experience in their country's top division - it was Crown who started the stronger. Early on, Bin Thierry fizzed a free-kick past the foot of a post before Kok Boris fed Thourng Da on the overlap and his rolled shot struck the upright and rebounded into the keeper's hands. They made their bright start count in the eighth minute, as Thierry took the ball on a fifty yard run from his own box before releasing Sos Suhana, who fired a dipping drive into the roof of the net. The All Stars first foray ended with Lee Yuneui heading tamely wide, whilst Khim Borey had his first sight of goal, poking the ball into the keeper's arms. A booking for a pull-back by Pheak Rady gave the All Stars a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Lim Hyun Woo's curler into the box beat everyone including Samrith Seiha in the Crown goal and Heo Jae Won was on hand to get the final touch to equalize. Just before the half hour, Borey's precise pass let in Hong Pheng, but the striker lifted his shot high over the bar from ten yards out. A few minutes later and the midfield duel between Kok Boris and Moon Joo Won boiled over with the Korean yellow carded for a thigh-high tackle.
A surging run by Boris was halted unfairly but Borey's 30-yard free-kick sailed over the top. Soon after a one-two between Borey and Pheng saw the latter fire low into the side netting from an acute angle. A minute before the interval and Moon Joo Won headed a corner onto the foot of the upright in a rare Korean surge. Moments later, Borey went down under the challenge of the Korean keeper but play was waved on and in thirty seconds of time added on, Kouch Dani burst onto a pass from Thierry but screwed his shot inches wide. It was all square at the interval. Just 17 seconds into the second half and Kang Woo Ram's shot was smothered by Seiha. Five minutes later, Suhana outpaced Jung Chul Woon and squared the ball for Borey, all alone in front of goal, but his air-shot missed the ball completely. Within sixty seconds, the Crown skipper worked a neat opening with Suhana but instead of shooting, he chose to cross the ball and it went harmlessly wide. Thierry tried his luck with a 25 yard free-kick but it was deflected wide, before he hobbled off.
Crown were conceding too many free-kicks and Dani made a good block to keep out a Moon Joo Won shot. On 78 minutes, Ouk Sothy sent Borey racing clear of the last defender but he drove his shot straight at the All Stars keeper to spurn yet another chance. Five minutes from time and Chhom Pisa's drive hit a defender for a corner. As it was cleared to the edge of the area, a Boris tackle saw the ball spin into the path of Borey, goal-side of the backline, but he rushed his shot which trickled wide. It was clearly not Borey's day in front of goal with a quartet of chances not taken. Boris tried his luck from 22 yards out but the keeper stood firm until the All Star's defence was breached a minute into three minutes of injury time. Borey fed Pisa and his delightful ball picked out the run of Makara and his finish was unerring. In a frantic last couple of minutes, Crown lost both Rady and Boris with injuries though the game was won and the large crowd went home happy.
PPCFC v Korea All Stars: Seiha, Da (Seyha 46), Dani, Srin, Rady (Lika 92), Boris, Thierry (Sothy 73), Suhana, Hasan (Makara 55), Pheng (Pisa 83), Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Chamrouen, Phearun, Morslim. Bookings: Rady. Referee: Khuon Virak.
|The Korea All Stars Union starting line-up|