Sunday, January 6, 2013

Same same

Samrith Seiha - man of the match by a country mile
How disappointing that nothing really changed for the Cambodian national team in this afternoon's second friendly match in three days. The result against the students from the South Korean university, Ulsan, a 1-0 reversal, was the same, the performance was similar in that the focus was on defense rather than offense and Cambodia simply couldn't conjure up a cutting edge that came anywhere close to causing the Koreans any headaches. Toothless is an apt phrase on the evidence of today's game. In six matches Cambodia had never beaten Ulsan and the formation and tactics adopted by the head coach Prak Sovannara today was not really going to change that abysmal record. In truth, I feel for the Khmer fans who were eagerly looking forward to seeing their team in action, bolstered by a few new faces including the overseas contingent, but who came away asking why were their team so defensive from the outset. The only real bright spark from the game was the performance of goalkeeper Samrith Seiha, who once again showed that despite a near two-year lay-off from the game, he is back to his shot-stopping best. A one-handed flying leap to palm away a fierce shot as it headed for the top corner in the 1st half was real quality. He must be a nailed-on certainty to go to Philippines on this showing alone. For many other players the choice is not so cut and dried. Individual performances from the two friendlies against Ulsan have left a lot to be desired with some players carrying knocks and looking well short of match practice. Others who should've stepped up to the plate, failed to do so. Coach Sovannara will be scratching his head to select his squad for the AFC games in March, but the team performance wasn't helped by the tactician's blatant desire to avoid defeat, that left his team bereft of attacking intent.

The first-half well and truly belonged to the students from Ulsan, even though they didn't manage to break down Seiha's stubborn resistance. He was down quickly to stop a low drive in the second minute and was also equal to a 25-yard effort after seven minutes, but had his captain Say Piseth to thank for blocking a shot after his punch fell short in the 11th minute. Kwon Tae Cheol, Ulsan's matchwinner in the first friendly, was determined to match that feat and was about to celebrate a goal on 18 minutes until Seiha got a hand to his thunderbolt to keep his goal intact. It was a save that wins matches. Or doesn't in this case. On the half-hour Seiha was at it again, diving full stretch to fingertip  a Go Yun Cheol fizzer around the post and was perfectly placed to catch Kwon's well-struck free-kick. With nothing seen of Cambodia as an attacking force, the Koreans were nearly caught unawares when Sok Chanraksmey won a tackle and fed Lay Raksmey, but he shot straight at the Ulsan keeper and the danger was cleared, with a minute left of the half. There was still time for Ulsan to go close again, a Go free-kick rattled the cross-bar as referee Khuon Virak blew the half-time whistle.

The second half was devoid of anything interesting until twenty minutes in and Cha Tae Young's inswinging shot from 25 yards smacked against the cross-bar, with Seiha in the right spot a couple of minutes later to keep out a low drive from the same player. Seiha left the field on 74 minutes, his return to the national team set-up a resounding success. Cambodia's best moment of the half came three minutes later. Keo Sokngon looked lively after his introduction and his burst into the box and shot was spilled by Ulsan keeper Young Bo Sang but Phuong Soksana was flagged for offside in the ensuing scramble. In the closing minutes Ulsan stepped up a gear with Yoon Sung Hee heading against the upright, before the students claimed the win they deserved on the balance of play, with just two minutes of regulation time left. Cambodia switched off at a short corner and Jeong Jong Hee let fly from 20 yards out on the angle and his drive caught everyone by surprise including sub keeper Om Vichet as the ball arrowed inside the near post. 1-0 to Ulsan and five minutes of time added on was not enough for Cambodia to avoid a second defeat in three days, by the same scoreline. One 1st half decision by coach Sovannara was a surprise. Kouch Dani was given just 24 minutes out wide on the right before he was replaced, which seemed harsh in the extreme as most of the play in the early exchanges was on the left side. A more obvious switch was for Alex Kem, who looked woefully short of the necessary midfield nous and on came San Narith after 32 minutes. Sovannara made another eight changes after half-time, though mass changes like that rarely produce the required result, and so it proved.
Cambodia v Ulsan: Seiha (Vichet 74), Raksmey, Vibol (Pancharong 46), Piseth, Thavrak (Rithy 46), Sopanha (Soksana 66), Kem (Narith 32), Vathanak (Vathanaka 56), Dani (Chanraksmey 24 (Sokngon 59), Chum (Sothearath 77), Vutha (Suhana 46). Bookings: Narith.
Cambodia line-up. Back LtoR: Vathanak, Kem, Vibol, Sopanha, Thavrak, Piseth. Front: Chum, Vutha, Seiha, Dani, Raksmey - click to enlarge

The 3 PPCFC players who played today. LtoR; Kouch Dani, Samrith Seiha, Sos Suhana

Kouch Dani (14) walks behind Samrith Seiha as he makes his national team debut


Steven W said...

Considering the opposition this is truly disappointing. Possibly Prak Sovannara is feeling a bit of pressure to avoid losing but such conservative tactics against a university club are still quite perplexing...hopefully after watching these two performances he will adjust his thinking. Of course match fitness is another issue altogether.

Anonymous said...

if it's just for testing it must be another friendly match soon I think.we can choose the best 11 now:Gk seyha Df piseth rithy vibol reaksmey MD thierry Borey phallin vathanaka Striker souhana sokngorn.what do you think about this Andy?