Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Into the action so soon

PPCFC 1st half. Back Row LtoR: Obadin, King, Sokheng, Ary, Hutchinson, Da. Front Row: Srin, Sosela, Sokumpheak, Borey, Pheng - click to enlarge
The day after Phnom Penh Crown reported back for serious pre-season conditioning training, the team took on Asia Euro University in a practice match this afternoon. With the RSN field suffering from the recent deluge of rain, the match was played at the Army Stadium with AEU looking to sharpen up ahead of their do-or-die C-League play-off matches starting at the weekend. For Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber it was an early marker for him to assess his existing squad as well as a bunch of trialists looking to secure a contract. They included no less than seven players from overseas and quite a few from much closer to home as well. As it turned out, the game offered up more questions for the tactician than answers. His after-match comments reflected that. "We're not prepared physically, we trained for the 1st time yesterday for two hours and we were in the gym this morning. We knew we were going to be tired. There were a few things I liked and lots of things I didn't like. But we needed this run out as a starting point." It's very much early days, the field and gym work over the next two months will mould the squad into much better shape and ready for the Hun Sen Cup ties that begin in mid-December. No less than 33 players took part in today's game in Crown colours. And they didn't include the three players currently training with the U-23 national team - Bin Thierry, Sos Suhana and new keeper Sou Yaty. Amongst the new foreign faces on show were two British-born players, Liam Hutchinson and Kyle King, Argentine Marcelo Turdera, Australian David Talevski, Jeremy Molina from Spain and Nigerian Ugochukwu Obi Moneke. Bun Keo is a Khmer-French import, while In Vichheka from Kirivong, San Sarak from TriAsia and two new faces from Battambang, Long Boran and Oum Tola, were amongst the locally-based players trying out.

Early on a corner fell to Touch Sokheng and his shot was deflected for another corner, while a Khim Borey drive was held by the AEU keeper. On the thirty minute mark, Kouch Sokumpheak fed Neou Sosela and his neat back-heel saw Thourng Da rampaging down the right flank to the byeline, with Sokumpheak on hand to steer home his inch-perfect cross. 1-nil to Crown. As Schweingruber made two changes, AEU broke down the left flank and Yok Ary's finger-tip touch to the cross was powered in by a diving AEU head to level the scores just two minutes later. A minute later and Ary flew across his goal to touch a shot wide, while Talevski's long-range effort was easily held by the AEU stopper.  All change at half-time perked up Crown and within four minutes Leng Makara got to a Turdera chip only to steer the ball wide of the target. Ouk Sothy's low drive was easily held before Talevski was denied a goal with a keeper's block after Turdera's intelligent through ball on the hour. A few minutes later and Turdera sent his header the wrong side of the upright from Keo's center. With Crown in control, Turdera's first-time chip from all of thirty yards sailed agonizingly wide of the post, after Kok Boris had spotted the striker in space. Turdera was determined to get on the scoresheet but another hopeful chip from 35 yards out cleared the cross-bar by a foot. With changes galore, the rhythm faltered and apart from a wayward drive by Mak Phearun and a grass-cutting shot from Obi, neither side seriously threatened the scoreboard.
PPCFC 1st half: Ary, Da, Pheng, Srin, Obadin, Hutchinson (Molina 22), Sokheng (Sothy 39), Sosela (Talevski 31), Sokumpheak, Borey, King (Turdera 31).
2nd half: Chamroeun (Soksela 67), Sarak (Lika 81), Keo (Panha 85), Boris (Seyha 75), Vichheka, Sothy (Obi 69), Pisa (Dara 85), Molina (King 60 (Tola 81 (Ratana 88))), Makara (Phearun 81), Talevski (Boran 75), Turdera (Morslim 81).
Booking: Pheng. MOTM: Vichheka - assured defensive performance. Goals: Sokumpheak (30).
PPCFC 2nd half. Back Row LtoR: Boris, Chamrouen, Molina, Talevski, Keo, Turdera. Front Row: Sarak, Sothy, Makara, Pisa, Vichheka - click to enlarge

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