|PPCFC line-up: Back Row LtoR: Seiha, Boris, Srin, Thierry, Hasan, Lika. Front: Da, Suhana, Makara, Dani, Pheng - click to enlarge|
The two most disappointed teams in this season's Hun Sen Cup competition, as they both lost their semi-finals on penalty-kicks, met at the Olympic Stadium this afternoon, under a sweltering sun. Phnom Penh Crown were without top scorer Khim Borey, out with a hamstring injury, so Hong Pheng got the nod as the target man and also wore the captain's armband. Crown began strongly and dominated possession for the majority of the first-half. Bin Thierry screwed his first shot badly wide but soon after got on the end of a well-rehearsed corner kick routine and his goal-bound effort was deflected past the upright by the head of defender Nhim Sovannara. From Sos Suhana's corner, Kirivong keeper Kem Makara didn't get any distance on his punch and Leng Makara sent a looping header into the top of the net from twelve yards out for a 7th minute opener for Crown. Skipper Pheng chipped an attempt into Makara's hands and then sent a 25-yard drive skidding inches wide of the upright, whilst Thierry's free-kick out wide curled past the far post. With so much one-way traffic, Kirivong made two changes and finally began to offer some resistance before the interval.
With Thierry in midfield offering up his best game in Crown colours, his team continued to pull the strings. The Khmer-French import fired straight at Makara just after the break and then Mart Hasan took too much time at the far post only to see his shot blocked. Crown lost Kok Boris to a hamstring pull, making their own double substitution with twenty minutes remaining. Ek Vannak sent Kirivong's best effort high and wide after weaving past two defenders but it was little comfort for the Takeo-based team who offered up far too little offensively. Crown substitute Ouk Sothy curled a drive just past the post and Thierry tried his luck again from distance but without worrying Makara. Samrith Seiha was quick to spot a dangerous long ball and cleared his area before Crown finally sealed the result with a second goal on 83 minutes. Pheng fed Suhana on the edge of the Kirivong area and he in turn squeezed a pass out to Makara on the right side of the box and his aim was true as he stroked the ball into the far corner. Two-nil and coasting. With five minutes left on the clock, a sweeping move of high quality brought Crown a deserved third. A quick-fire one-two between Sothy and the lively Makara, allowed the latter to get behind the Kirivong defence and his timely center was tapped home by a jubilant skipper, Hong Pheng, from six yards out. There was still time for Kirivong's In Vichheka to see red, when he lashed out at Suhana and referee Chi Samedy wasted no time in flashing a straight red card a minute after Crown's third goal. For good measure, Thierry tried one more attempt on goal, only to see it fly wide and the final whistle was blown as Crown secured third place in the Hun Sen Cup competition and prize money of $5,000.
For Crown coach Sam Schweingruber it was a pleasing outcome. "3-0 was deserved. We had to wait too long for the 2nd goal to finish the game off, but the result was a fair reflection of how much stronger we were. I don't think Kirivong had any dangerous situations in the whole game, we didn't allow them to play. Even without Borey we created chances but we took too long to capitalise on them. For the last three months we've worked with Borey up front and haven't worked enough with Pheng. He isn't Borey, he doesn't have the same amount of experience or the same cleverness in some situations, but he did well today. In the 1st half we played some good football, we came with a purpose. Hey, we've made a good step forward, and all in all a good performance today, and it makes me proud when you work on things in training and it comes off in the game like our 3rd goal today. Nice."
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Da, Dani, Lika, Srin, Thierry, Boris (Sothy 70), Hasan (Seyha 70), Makara (Morslim 88), Pheng. Subs not used: Ary, Chamrouen, Dara, Kano, Pisa, Phearun. Bookings: Hasan, Makara. MOTM: Makara.
|Sos Suhana helps skipper Hong Pheng with his armband|
|A proud moment for Hong Pheng, as Crown skipper today|
|Two-goal Leng Makara gets after-match attention from the press|
|Teamwork by Boris and Dani to aid injured keeper Seiha|
|Kirivong weren't in the game from the very start|