Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Firepower blunted

PPCFC starting line-up. Back Row LtoR: Ary, Thierry, Boris, Pheng, Srin, Hasan. Front: Phearun, Da, Dani, Suhana, Rady
Phnom Penh Crown came a cropper, losing 2-1 in this afternoon's practice match against Svay Rieng, but who are the Preah Khan Reach U-19 team competing in the Hun Sen Cup. I've no idea why they have taken on the mantle of Svay Rieng province. Though Crown went down 2-1, they dominated possession for long periods of the game only failing when it came to sticking the ball in the net. Crown coach Sam Schweingruber fielded a strong side against the PKR youngsters, who looked well-drilled formation-wise and gave a good account of themselves. Too good, it might be said, as they opened the scoring after just 45 seconds of the kick-off. A direct free-kick, struck with accuracy and velocity by Soeung Sopanha soared into the top corner from 30 yards out, leaving Yok Ary clutching at straws. For the remainder of the first-half, Crown pressed but were found wanting in front of goal. On 12 minutes, a Kok Boris drive from outside the box was pushed aside by the PKR keeper and soon after, Bin Thierry controlled a Pheak Rady ball over the top, but fired into the side netting. Good link-up play between Thierry and Boris, saw the latter volley his shot a few yards wide before Hong Pheng cut inside his marker and sent a 25-yard effort over the top. Despite their dominance, Crown lacked that killer touch and Mart Hasan saw out the first half with a 20-yard drive straight into the keeper's gloves.

Crown coach Schweingruber rang the changes throughout the second-half, with eight substitutions but the story remained the same. Crown pressing, with PKR defending resolutely. In fact they nearly claimed a second just after the interval but Mak Phearun headed off the goal-line. Sos Suhana fired a shot into the keeper's chest, Kouch Dani sent a fizzing long range drive just over the cross-bar and Boris failed to connect strongly enough after another trademark burst into the box. Khim Borey sent a dipping shot just over and then Leng Makara thought he'd equalised with a strong downward header, only for the keeper to claw the ball away from the foot of the upright. With three minutes left on the clock, PKR netted a second goal against the run of play. Another Sopanha free-kick took a wicked deflection, forcing Samrith Seiha into a super one-handed save only for Sun Vandeth to react quickest and fire into an empty net. There was still time for a Thierry free-kick to be palmed aside by the keeper before Crown finally found the target in the final minute of the match, but it was too little, too late. Bouy Dary's pin-point corner was met by the forehead of Leng Makara in the six-yard box for a consolation goal, but the whistle went soon after and Crown will be reflecting on their lack of firepower in this hard-fought friendly encounter.
PPCFC line-up v Svay Rieng: Ary (Seiha 46), Da (Borey 46), Phearun (Makara 62), Srin (Lika 62), Rady, Boris (Pisa), Hasan (Dara 62), Suhana (Dary 62), Dani, Pheng (Morslim), Thierry. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Kano. Bookings: None.
A sight which will please Crown fans as Kouch Sokumpheak gets used to the ball again after months of inactivity

Kouch Sokumpheak watches his teammates as he contemplates his comeback in a month or two

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