Sunday, December 29, 2013

U-15s deserve their success

PPCFC U-15s v SSAC, back row, LtoR: Chanmony, Saphy, Chanchav, Sovannaroth, S Samnang, Baraing (capt). Front Row: Kakada, Piseth, N David, Rafat, Rozak - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC Academy U-15 3 SSCA 1 (Cambodia U-15 Youth League Play-off Final).
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-15s have beaten all before them this season, winning every match they've played, scoring 130 goals and conceding just two, so it came as no surprise when they beat SSCA to win the Cambodia Youth League Championship, despite an under-par performance. Perhaps nerves played a part for them and the U-17s too, with both teams lacking the fluidity we've come to expect, but its clear that no-one can match the passing game of the Academy teams and even without their top goalscorer Suon Noeut and down to ten men for the whole of the 2nd half, the U-15s were simply too strong for their plucky opponents. Minus Noeut, who sprained his wrist playing for the U-17s in the earlier game, coach Bouy Dary pushed his captain, Seut Baraing, into attack and it proved a master-stroke. Baraing too, had played for the U-17s, netted a penalty in the spot-kick shoot-out and then scampered from the pitch to join his U-15 teammates waiting to enter the arena. He proved to be the dominant force for the Crown Academy throughout the match, spurning two good opportunities before opening the scoring on 36 minutes. Early on he sent Sat Rozak racing clear only for the SSCA goalkeeper to deny him. Rozak returned the pass to Baraing minutes later but he fired wide and then burst into the box, only for the opposing keeper, who had a fine game, to save his shot. However, he was not to be denied as Mao Piseth set him up, and though his first shot was blocked, he rolled in the opener from a tight angle. The skipper was sent clear again six minutes later and was hauled to the ground by the keeper. Rozak stepped up to score with confidence. A minute before the break, the referee, Chi Samedy, took an unnecessary part in proceedings. Having already booked Sin Kakada for kicking the ball away, he decided Kakada was guilty of the same offence a 2nd time and flashed a second yellow and a red card to the distraught youngster. Video replays clearly show that Kakada was in the motion of kicking the ball as the referee blew his whistle and had no chance to stop himself. Probably one of the worst decisions I have seen in youth football from a C-League referee who should know better. Crown would play the entire second-half with ten men and Kakada sat with his family in the grandstand, with his head in his hands.

SSCA showed their intent to not lie down and take defeat easily by missing the target by inches just 37 seconds after the restart. After Baraing fired a good chance across the face of goal, SSCA scored only the 3rd goal that the Academy have conceded in the competition, with the half just six minutes old. SSCA took advantage of a hesitant defence and their speedy striker grabbed the goal his performance deserved. A few minutes later Svang Samnang, playing in the heart of defence rather than his normal role between the sticks, sent Baraing clear though his finish sailed over the cross-bar. Another Baraing effort was saved before he left the field with ten minutes remaining. With just a minute of normal time to go, Men Piphop chased the ball and harried a defender into conceding an own goal to make the game safe. The referee then added on an extra nine minutes - he obviously had his own agenda - during which time Piphop ran through but lobbed wide of the target and Nop David's free-kick was saved low down. The final whistle eventually came as the Academy U-15s celebrated their deserved success and Seut Baraing stepped up to collect the Championship trophy. Suon Noeut was awarded Top Goalscorer with his 54 goals in just 8 matches, he also received the Most Valuable Player award and rightly so, whilst Kong Rafat was awarded Best Goalkeeper, Bouy Dary got the Best Coach trophy and the team were given the Fair Play award too. A clean sweep of awards, in a season in which they were the dominant force in the country's Youth League. 
PPCFC U-15s v SSCA: Rafat, Chanmony, Sovannaroth (S David 97), S Samnang, Saphy, Chanchav, N David, Rozak, Kakada, Piseth (Piphop 61), Baraing (K Chhaya 81). Sub not used: Pisoth. Bookings: Kakada (+ red card), N David. MOTM: Baraing - a true captain's performance. Goals: Baraing (36), Rozak (42 pen), OG (89).
The PPCFC U-15s collect their Championship medals and trophy, held aloft by skipper Seut Baraing - click to enlarge

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