Saturday, October 12, 2013

Crown on top

PPCFC. Back Row LtoR: Hutchinson, King, Srin, Turdera, Pheng, Obadin. Front Row: Da, Sosela, Ary, Sokumpheak, Borey - click to enlarge
Phnom Penh Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber was upbeat at the final whistle of this morning's 2-1 victory for his Crown side over the Cambodia U-23s at Olympic Stadium. "It was a good work-out and I was surprised at how well players like Sokumpheak lasted for the whole 90 minutes. Some players did very well, others looked off the pace a bit, but we started our sessions less than a week ago. It also gave our foreigners a challenge and asked them the question, are you better than the best Khmer players? It was a good session." Previously unbeaten in half a dozen matches, the U-23s included three Crown players in their starting eleven - Thierry, Suhana and Yaty - as well as their most recent recruit, Chhunly Pagenburg. Crown included four foreigners in their line-up, three of them on trial. Disappointingly the groundstaff at the stadium had failed to paint the white lines or cut the grass, so small plastic cones identified the touchlines. A sorry state of affairs. Marcelo Turdera blasted a 25-yard shot high and wide in the first effort on goal after 18 minutes. Sok Sovan did the same at the other end, while Ros Samoeun's long range effort was grasped by the diving Yok Ary. Just before the half hour, Pagenburg was in the action but sent his header, as he stretched, wide of the mark. On 39 minutes, the German-born striker's next touch was decisive. His deep cross from the left touchline eluded Hong Pheng at the far post but Tum Saray was on hand to volley past Ary from a couple of yards out. 1-nil to the U-23s. Moments later it looked likely that Pagenburg would double their lead as he played a one-two with Phoung Soksana and left the defenders in his wake, only to push the ball too wide of Ary and lose possession at the crucial moment. With a minute left on the clock, Crown skipper Khim Borey received a pass from Turdera, cut onto his left foot and unleashed a wicked 25-yard dipping drive that arced over Yaty for a brilliant equaliser.

Cambodia coach Lee Tae-Hoon changed his whole line-up for the second-half while his opposite number kept faith with his team for another fifteen minutes after the restart. Nine minutes in and Prak Mony Udom hit a thunderbolt from 25-yards that crashed against the cross-bar and was cleared as it bounced down. Moments later, Kyle King jigged his way into the six-yard box past two defenders only for the U-23 keeper, Aim Sovannarath to get a hand to palm the ball for a corner. Crown looked the more composed of the two teams and made four changes on the hour mark. Three minutes later and Leng Makara set up Turdera, whose low shot was pushed aside by Sovannarath, only for David Talevski to retrieve it and plonk it onto Turdera's head and into the net. However, his celebration was cut short as the linesman had decided the ball had gone out of play, despite there being no line markings for him to judge correctly. Chhin Chhoeun tried to chip Ary but the keeper was alert  and from a corner, Pagenburg headed over at the far post, while Sok Pheng blasted wide on the run. Makara's pace on the right was causing problems and his cut back was missed by Jeremy Molina but Talevski followed up to send his right-footed shot inches wide of the mark. Odion Obadin was a tower of strength in defence and got in a great block to deny Pagenburg as the game entered its last few minutes. With four minutes to go, Bun Keo fed Borey and his delightful left-foot cross to the far post was finished off by Makara at close range, to earn Crown their deserved victory. In time added on, Chhoeun went down in the box under a Keo challenge, only for the referee to brandish a yellow card for simulation. The match ended and the U-23s unbeaten record came to an end. In truth, their performance didn't warrant any other result. A lot of work ahead for the U-23s to challenge at the SEA Games, while Schweingruber will look to step up his team's pre-season conditioning over the coming weeks ahead.
PPCFC: Ary, Da (Sarak), Pheng (Keo), Srin (Sokheng (Sothy)), Obadin, Hutchinson (Boris), Sokumpheak, Sosela (Makara (Pisa)), Borey (Talevski), Turdera (Molina), King (Borey). Subs not used: Soksela, Tola, Morslim, Phearun, Dara. Booked: Makara. MOTM: Borey - two sublime touches, two goals. Goals: Borey (44), Makara (86).
Cam U23s. Back Row LtoR: Yaty, Pagenburg, Thierry, Sovan, Soksana, Piseth. Front Row: Pancharong, Suhana, Sothearath, Saray, Samoeun - click to enlarge

PPCFC's 3 U23 players, LtoR: Thierry, Yaty, Suhana - click to enlarge

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