Sunday, June 9, 2013

Boring boring Army

PPCFC v Army. Back Row LtoR: Lika, Thierry, Obadin, Elroy, Ha-Neul, Pheng. Front Row: Seyha, Da, Ary, Sokumpheak, Borey (capt).

Phnom Penh Crown were looking to consolidate their top 4 place while Army were desperate to claw their way out of relegation danger in Sunday's Metfone C-League encounter at the Olympic Stadium. Crown were without regulars Samrith Seiha, Kok Boris and Sos Suhana and Army were missing a few as well. Army kicked off and within five minutes were celebrating taking a surprise lead. Vi Lika mistimed his clearance and the ball rolled under his foot to Meak Chhordaravuth who got his shot on target and wheeled away in delight as keeper Yok Ary failed to get a strong hand to it and the ball crept over the goal-line. After that, Army closed ranks and defended in numbers as Crown took total control and dominated possession, but found themselves frequently frustrated. Hong Pheng's shot on the run was blocked and a bouncing 30-yard drive from Khim Borey sailed a foot wide. Pheng and Elroy van der Hooft combined to create a shooting chance for Borey but he skied it from 20 yards out. Pheng was pulled down for a Bin Thierry free-kick on the bye-line but Phoung Soksana managed to knee it over his own cross-bar from six yards out. On the half-hour, Borey put Kouch Sokumpheak in but Sou Yaty was out quickly to smother and the same players reversed the move but Borey, in space on the left, sent his drive into Yaty's midriff. Last ditch defending snuffed out a smart Lee Ha-Neul foray and van der Hooft and Pheng worked the ball into the box only for the latter's shot to find Yaty in the way once again. In time added on, van der Hooft took a pass on his chest, flicked the ball over his marker but his effort was turned out for a corner, one of twelve Crown amassed, to Army's zero.

There was only one team trying to play football and Crown got the break they were pressing for, and deserved, five minutes after the re-start. Thierry played a short pass to Borey, and he unleashed a 30-yard drive that eluded Yaty's despairing dive and nestled in the corner of the net. Crown were poised to go on and win the match. But it didn't turn out as planned. Ha-Neul broke into the box but his cross was missed by Pheng. At the other end, Lika again missed his clearance and Ung Dara's cheeky lob from 35 yards had Ary back-pedalling but it just evaded the target. Apart from a free-kick straight into Ary's hands, that was Army's only foray forward.They continued to sit back and absorb the increasingly-frustrated Crown attack. Borey found Pheng at the far post but his control let him down. As it did again when Sokumpheak's slide-rule pass gave Pheng the perfect through-ball but Yaty was out smartish to snuff out the danger. Ha-Neil had a shot deflected wide and Pheng's low cross failed to find the waiting attackers. With time running out, Borey's superb 40-yard cross-field pass saw Leng Makara rise above a defender but Yaty was waiting to collect his downward header. An attempted clearance struck Makara and rebounded a foot wide of the upright from twenty yards out. Borey and Sokumpheak combined neatly but the latter's touch was too strong and Yaty again came to the rescue, and in time added on, he dived full length to divert a Borey free-kick for a corner. And that was it. The final score of 1-1 left Crown kicking the collective cat, having failed to turn their dominance into goals and a deserved victory. For Army, it was a means to an end, a point, but their  negative tactics will win them no fans.

Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber offered his thoughts on his team's performance and the Army tactics. "Any game can be difficult if you concede after five minutes and it was the ideal start for an opponent who didn't have the quality to challenge us, they just held in there, defending for the whole time, and if a team encourages each other after just ten minutes to waste time, then you know that team isn't there to play football, they are there just to frustrate you. Which they did. We were a complete mess for their goal, such a weak goal to give away. I'm glad we got a point as we could've got even more frustrated. We had spells where we looked okay and should've scored more goals but we made too many mistakes in our build-up, couldn't keep possession, not good enough in the box, no clinical finish. Our offensive play didn't glue together today." All in all a bad day at the office.
PPCFC line-up: Ary, Da (Srin 57), Seyha (Makara 65), Lika (Boris 85), Obadin, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Pheng, Borey, Ha-Neul, van der Hooft. Subs not used: Soksela, Phearun, Narin, Sothy, Dara, Hasan, Morslim, Pisa. Bookings: van der Hooft, Obadin. MOTM: Borey.
The Army starting XI v PPCFC made their intentions clear from the outset

The two men of the match were the captains, Khim Borey (red) and Sou Yaty (yellow)

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