|PPCFC v An Giang, back row, LtoR: Yaty, Bisan, Thierry, Hutchinson, Srin, Obadin. Front Row: Boran, Sosela, Borey (c), Sokumpheak, Pheng - click to enlarge|
Continuing their brief pre-season preparation tour to Vietnam, via Kirivong, the Phnom Penh Crown squad were escorted across the border at Phnom Den, without any need for passports and visas and arrived in Long Xuyen, the provincial capital of An Giang province in time for a brief run out on the excellent pitch. Saturday afternoon, Crown lined up against a strong Vietnamese League, who've strengthened their team ahead of the new V-League season that begins in the middle of January. In a well-matched first-half, it was the scurrying Neou Sosela who offered the first threat as he raced clear only to see his center cut out for a corner. On fifteen minutes, Odion Obadin recovered lost ground to avert a dangerous breakaway and two minutes later, Crown took a deserved lead. Kouch Sokumpheak won a tackle and fed George Bisan, who cut inside his marker and unleashed a 20-yard powerdrive that evaded the keeper and put Crown ahead. Bisan's somersault was well received by the 500-strong crowd. The home team stepped up their game as a quick free-kick caused consternation but Sou Yaty was out quickly to smother the danger. Their efforts paid off on 28 minutes when Hong Pheng tapped the ankle of Felix Ajala and his dramatic dive resulted in a penalty. Dinh Hoang Max struck his spot-kick into the corner just wide of Yaty's dive. As the half progressed, Bisan and Khim Borey twice combined to send the Nigerian striker free only for Phan Van Santos to end the danger on the first occasion and for a last-gasp tackle to deny Bisan a shot on target soon after.
After the break, An Giang came out strong and within a couple of minutes, Yaty needed to be strong to tip over a shot by David and on seven minutes, a close range volley rebounded into play off the Crown cross-bar. A point-blank Yaty save, as he palmed a close range header onto the post, was the most dangerous moment as Crown weathered the early storm. Thirteen minutes into the second period and Bisan turned quickly onto a Bin Thierry pass and poked his shot a few inches wide of the target. Yaty was again in action less than a minute later as he saved low down. A series of substitutions took place as the game settled into a midfield battle, which Crown looked to be winning for large chunks of the game. As the match entered its final minutes, Obi's cross from the left flank saw Leng Makara arrive at the far post in acres of space, only to steer with shot agonisingly wide. Jeong Ho Kim had an attempt on goal blocked, Liam Hutchinson sent a rocket free-kick a few inches over the top and Yaty was again to the rescue with another good block save, before Hong Pheng's low shot was grabbed by the keeper to end the match all-square. A good work-out for Crown against a high quality team, though An Giang will feel they need to step up their game with their new season just over a week away. It was a draw that felt like a win for the visitors.
PPCFC v An Giang: Yaty, Srin, Pheng, Hutchinson (Boris 90) , Obadin, Thierry (Sothy 88), Sokumpheak (Sokheng 92), Boran (Obi 43 (Da 84 ), Sosela (Makara 67), Borey (Suhana 78), Bisan (Kim 76). Subs not used: Tola, Dara, Morslim, Pisa. Bookings: Sokumpheak. MOTM: Obadin & Yaty - both were invincible. Goal: Bisan (17).