Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crown dominate but held

PPCFC v TriAsia line-up: Boris, Pheng, Thierry, Da, Ary, Borey. Front: Suhana, Boran, Sothy, Sokumpheak. Sosela - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 TriAsia PP (Kandal) 1 (Hun Sen Cup).
The eagerly-awaited Hun Sen Cup last 16 Pool C clash between Phnom Penh Crown and TriAsia PP - representing Kandal province - duly arrived this afternoon at Olympic Stadium, and despite a lot of huffing and puffing, the teams finished all square at 1-1. Both teams made changes from the weekend, with only Khmer players allowed to take part, with Yok Ary replacing Sou Yaty in goal for Crown and Neou Sosela getting the thumbs up from the Federation to play at last. Former Crown players Leng Narin and Bun Keo were in the TriAsia line-up. The first action of note came on twelve minutes as TriAsia's Seng Kosen sent a 22-yard effort towards goal which Ary parried down and away. On 22 minutes it was TriAsia that drew first blood as two errors by Crown defenders were punished, with Kouch Sokumpheak slipping to allow Sok Chanrasmey time to lash his shot past Ary from just inside the penalty area. Five minutes later, Sos Suhana turned neatly and unleashed a low drive that flashed inches past the upright. A rash-looking challenge by Neou Sosela on Leng Narin with ten minutes of the first-half to go, left Crown with an uphill task as referee Khuon Virak produced a straight red card, though on video replay its not clear if Sosela even connected with the TriAsia defender. Coach Sam Schweingruber immediately switched Sokumpheak from defense into attack and after Hem Simay punched away a Khim Borey free-kick, the TriAsia goalkeeper was caught napping, when he dived on the ball as Sokumpheak challenged. As he picked it up, referee Virak gave an indirect free-kick to Crown, seventeen yards out, which Sokumpheak touched to Borey and he curled the ball around the wall and into the bottom corner for the equaliser. That was four minutes before half-time. Two minutes later an inswinging Bin Thierry corner found the head of Sokumpheak, but he was stretching and his header went wide of the far post.

Schweingruber threw on Leng Makara at half-time, pushing Sokumpheak back into midfield. Suhana broke into the box early on but his shot was blocked, and a Borey free-kick from wide left was headed away by Kao Viso. At the other end, Yok Ary punched a Nuth Sinoun free-kick from under the cross-bar. Crown's best chance to go ahead fell to Suhana on 56 minutes, as Thourng Da's overlap and cross found its way through a host of legs but his shot was blocked at point-blank range by Simay, who then reacted smartly to thwart Makara after Crown broke quickly through Sokumpheak. On 70 minutes, Sokumpheak's pass found Long Boran steaming into the box and his flashing drive was finger-tipped over the bar by Simay, as the keeper once again came to his side's rescue. Both Suhana and Makara headed harmlessly wide of the target while Ary was quick off his line to deny Chanrasmey's spurt into the area. Sokumpheak took a tumble as he weaved his way into the box but referee Virak looked the other way, and two minutes after his arrival on the pitch, Um Tola connected with a Da cross but his diving header flashed wide of the near post by a matter of inches. TriAsia were restricted to the odd counter-attack and Chanrasmey nearly made one of them count as he slipped past Hong Pheng and Ary only for Pheng to recover and head his shot out for a corner. Five minutes of injury time failed to produce a winner and both teams had to settle for a point apiece in this Pool C encounter.
PPCFC v TriAsia (Kandal): Ary, Sokumpheak, Da, Pheng Boris (Sarak 92), Sothy (Makara 46), Thierry, Sosela, Boran, Suhana (Tola 81), Borey. Subs not used: Yaty, Soksela, Phearun, Dara, Sokheng, Muslim, Srin, Pisa. Booking: Sokumpheak, Sarak; Sosela (red card). MOTM: Borey - smartly-taken goal. Goal: Borey (41).

Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber gave his thoughts after the match with TriAsia (Kandal): "Our game was not what we wanted to play, we had a lot of players not 100% switched on and it may've had to do with a few changes I made to the team...trying a few new things, which clearly didn't work, so I have to take part of the blame for that. Two or three of our players should've done better for their goal but he finished with good composure. Then comes the red card - and it throws out our whole plan. Definitely the turning point in the game, still we managed to be very strong. I thought we were miles better than them in the 2nd half. Easily the strongest team. They were slow, we reacted quicker, we were well organised and we have players, who when they switch it on, are really good players. I think we should've had a penalty on at least one occasion, and we were a bit unlucky on a couple more occasions. Suhana should've done better with his effort and if we'd scored, we would've won comfortably. We didn't, and I'm disappointed with a few things, but that's football."

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