Saturday, February 9, 2013

Penalty hell

PPCFC Line-up. Back Row LtoR: Pheng, Srin, Seyha, Ary, Boris, Thierry. Front: Dani, Da, Suhana, Makara, Borey - click to enlarge
Phnom Penh Crown crashed out of the Hun Sen Cup at the semi-final stage this afternoon, going down 4-1 on penalty-kicks to the Army after extra-time had finished all-square at 1-1. It was their first defeat in seven matches. Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber changed a winning line-up for the tie with Kok Boris replacing Vi Lika in central defense, Men Seyha getting the left-back slot and Kouch Dani moving into midfield. In goal, Samrith Seiha failed a late fitness test and Yok Ary stepped in between the sticks. Khim Borey took the first pot at goal when his 20-yard effort found Sou Yaty at full stretch in the third minute. Army skipper Khek Khemarin had a far post header blocked before Leng Makara moved onto Sos Suhana's pass only to fire straight down the throat of Yaty. Two long-range free-kicks by Bin Thierry and Kouch Dani sailed over the top before Army's Ke Vannak missed his header by a whisker at the far post. With five minutes of the first-half remaining, Khim Borey broke the deadlock with his sixth cup goal of the campaign. Quick-fire passing and one-two's between Hong Pheng and Dani, then Pheng and Suhana gave the persistent Pheng the space to plant a pin-point center onto Borey's head and he gave Yaty no chance from six yards out as he flung himself at the ball. It was easily the best move of the whole game. Three minutes later Borey was stretchered off with a thigh injury and Crown played three minutes of injury time with ten-men as the medical team assessed the seriousness of the injury. In too much pain, Borey was forced to quit and Ouk Sothy started the second-half in his place.

With Suhana pushed into the central striking role, he found room to move onto a Dani pass seven minutes in, but Yaty was equal to his fizzing drive, turning it around the foot of the post. Boris headed the resulting corner wide of the mark. Though Crown were pressing, it was Army who snatched an equaliser on the hour mark from two dangerous corners. The first saw Yok Ary tip Pom Tola's inswinger over the bar but Chhin Chhoeun's follow-up corner ping-ponged around the six-yard box as Ary and his defence failed to clear, before Ke Vannak claimed the final touch amongst a forest of legs. Three minutes later and Hong Pheng's pace took him past two defenders but as Yaty left his line, Pheng guided his final touch the wrong side of the upright and a fabulous opportunity was lost. That was it as far as goalscoring chances though Va Buthtrour's hit and hope from 35-yards nearly caught Ary napping, the keeper just getting his finger-tips to it, in time added on. Extra-time came and went with Suhana going down under a challenge from Yaty but referee Tuy Vichheka looked the other way. With both teams visibly tiring, Ary missed a Chhoeun center that bounced across the face of goal before Dani cleared and two minutes into time added on at the end of extra time, Pheng rose above the crowd to meet Sothy's corner with a powerful header but watched in agony as it sailed over the cross-bar. Referee Vichheka blew and penalty-kicks would decide the finalist. A minute before the end, Schweingruber replaced a limping Ary with the injured Seiha with penalties firmly in mind. However, though Seiha blocked Thong Udom's opening kick, the ball spun agonisingly inside the post, much to Seiha's disgust. Kok Boris was delayed by an argument with officials over shin-pads and then lifted his spot-kick over the top. Ung Dara sent Seiha the wrong way, whilst Yaty dived full length to his left to keep out Suhana's effort. Vannak made no mistake and neither did Thierry, launching his kick into the top corner. Op Kamol needed to convert his penalty to give Army a 4-1 lead and he did exactly that, to send the military team through to the 16 Feb final and to leave Crown in a third-place play-off next Thursday.

Crown coach Schweingruber was not pleased with the outcome. "We played slightly better than the other team but there wasn't enough quality overall to win the game. On 120 minutes we had a free header from a corner and if on target it would've been a goal and we could've nicked it in the final seconds. We looked a bit short up front when Borey was out, but I'm very disappointed about the goal we conceded. We gave away a stupid free-kick and a corner. The amount of dangerous free-kicks and corners we give away and the immaturity in how we deal with these balls, I'm surprised we don't lose every game. Penalty kicks are all about confidence. I thought having Seiha fresh and very confident could bring us the advantage but everything went against us. The first penalty Seiha stops it with his leg but it still rolls in, very unlucky. Then Boris lost concentration in an argument with the referee over whether he wears shin protection or not for the penalty. It shouldn't have happened and that has probably cost us."
PPCFC v Army: Ary (Seiha 121), Da, Seyha (Hasan 101), Boris, Srin, Thierry, Dani, Pheng, Makara, Suhana, Borey (Sothy 46). Subs not used: Chamrouen, Dara, Lika, Pisa, Kano, Morslim. Bookings: Thierry. MOTM: Boris.
The Army starting line-up for today's game

Khim Borey receives treatment for a hamstring injury
Half-time pep talk from coach Sam Schweingruber
The PPCFC coach facing the TV cameras after the match

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