Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marching on

A satisfied PPCFC skipper Khim Borey at the end of today's epic cup tie

The PPCFC starting XI. Back Row, LtoR: Boris, Pheng, Seiha, Thierry, Srin, Lika. Front: Dani, Da, Suhana, Makara, Borey

Two cup wins in 48 hours and two major scalps for the victorious Phnom Penh Crown team. Progress in this season's Hun Sen Cup competition has pitted them against the cup holders Preah Khan Reach and the league champions Boeung Ket. And on both occasions, Crown have come out on top. Quite an achievement for young coach Sam Schweingruber and his even younger set of players. But they haven't won anything yet and now face the Army in the semi-final at the Olympic Stadium on Friday 8 Feb, KO 2pm. Now back to this afternoon's match. Boeung Ket were talking up their chances and played the bullshit card over an injury to their skipper Keo Sokngon. One minute he was out for a month, the next he was wearing the captain's armband. You can't believe a word they say. Crown didn't fall for it and with an unchanged starting line-up from their 4-3 success over PKR 48 hours earlier, Schweingruber's men were determined to do well. The first foray into Boeung Ket territory saw Khim Borey race away on the left and his near post cross was inches away from Leng Makara as the Rubbermen's keeper Peng Bunchhay came out bravely. The 13th minute was unlucky for Sos Suhana as he skated free, racing onto Borey's intelligent pass, rounding Bunchhay as he left his area but found the angle too wide and the recovering Thul Sothearith blocked his shot. Boeung Ket's Sokngon saw his 20-yard effort pounced on by Samrith Seiha in the Crown goal and soon after, the Rubbermen's skipper failed to get a decisive touch to Chan Vathanaka's low cross. With Crown down to ten-men with Kok Boris receiving attention for a gashed knee, Vathanaka escaped his marker but sent his first-time touch well over the bar. Then five minutes before the half-time interval, Crown took the lead. A wayward clearance was headed on by Boris to Sos Suhana, who left three defenders on the floor in the penalty box and powered his dipping shot over Bunchhay's head and into the far corner with a piece of individual magic. Vathanaka went close with two minutes of the half remaining, when Seiha missed his punch but Thourng Da was on hand to turn the effort from Boeung Ket's leading scorer away for a corner.

Borey opened the second half with a powerful but wayward 35-yard effort on goal. Five minutes in and Keo Sokpheng's looping header was finger-tipped over the cross-bar by a back-pedalling Seiha. Borey continued to harass the Boeung Ket back-line and his half-volley sailed wide before Khiev Vibol's last-ditch tackle saved the day as the Crown skipper weaved his way into the area. Next it was Suhana who powered his way past two defenders before a reckless tackle by Sothearith was fortunate to only get a yellow card from match referee Thong Chankethya. Seiha was alive to Vibol's long-range grass-cutter though Yob Romaton will feel he should've done better when Keo Sokpheng's cross eluded everyone. In the dying minutes, Touch Pancharong escaped a second yellow for a clatter into the back of Borey but with thirty seconds of normal time to go, he kicked Makara and even Chankethya had no option but to flash a yellow, quickly followed by a red card. The referee, of course, added on an extra five minutes and in the fourth of them Savy Setsoudy poked the ball past Seiha only to turn and see the linesman's flag raised for offside. It was the last action of a hard-fought quarter-final, bereft of many real clear-cut chances but a fascinating battle amongst two of the capital's heavyweights and won by the resurgent Crown.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Da, Dani, Lika, Srin, Boris, Thierry (Seyha 94), Suhana (Sothy 86), Pheng (Hasan 73), Makara, Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Chamrouen, Kano, Dara, Morslim, Pisa. Bookings: Pheng, Boris. MOTM: Srin.
The Rubbermen. Back Row: Bunchhay. Vathanaka, Romaton, Ravy, Sothearith, Sokngon. Front: Rithy, Sokpheng, Kumpheak, Pancharong, Vibol

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