|PPCFC v Albirex: Back Row LtoR: Da, Sarak, Dara, Ary, Hutchinson, Makara. Front: Sothy, Boran, Sokheng, Tola, Suhana - click to enlarge|
The first of another weekend double-header of practice matches for Phnom Penh Crown at their RSN Stadium was against the newest club on the scene, the Japanese-backed Albirex Niigata. Crown coach Sam Schweingruber gave his younger squad members the opportunity to shine, just one week away from the start of the C-League season, whilst Albirex and their new coach, 21-year old Tatsuya Sase, were in need of serious match practice, having only just put together their squad. It took just 35 seconds for Crown to go ahead and set the scene for the rest of the match. Um Tola chipped a pass to Sos Suhana and looking up, he spotted the keeper off his goal-line and executed a perfect lob to open the scoring. Five minutes later Tola was in space but fired high, though on 11 minutes Crown scored a second courtesy of Albirex. Tola and Suhana combined well and it looked certain for Long Boran to score from close range until a defender's foot got there first and directed it into his own net. Chea Dara's right-flank runs were a constant menace and his cross to the far post saw Suhana shoot weakly at the keeper. It was all one-way traffic and on 21 minutes, Crown made it 3-0. A Liam Hutchinson trademark 50-yard pass sent Dara scampering to the bye-line and his pull-back was met by the diving head of Tola with perfect timing. Leng Makara was sent clear by Suhana but his shot was saved by the keeper and from Boran's corner, Hutchinson headed onto the top of the cross-bar. On the half-hour, Suhana held his head as he missed a simple tap-in, provided on a plate by Jeong Ho Kim, but Crown went further ahead four minutes later. Once again Dara overlapped with pace and his perfect delivery across the face of goal was met by a diving Touch Sokheng for an almost identical goal to Tola's earlier strike. Soon after Kim was guilty of a missed opportunity as he sent his header wide, from another Dara run and cross. Albirex registered their first shot on target with two minutes of the half left and then stunned Crown on the half-time whistle with a breakaway tap-in goal.
It looked like Crown hadn't learned their lesson when Albirex scored again, just two minutes after the restart. A one-on-one left Yok Ary exposed and the opposition pulled it back to 4-2, but not for long. Two minutes later, a deep Makara corner met the leap of Hutchinson and though his downward header was pushed aside by the keeper, he reacted quickest to force the ball home. Makara and then Chhom Pisa both went close with efforts, while substitute Sraing Titchhy sent one chance over the bar and was then thwarted by a good reaction save by the keeper. Mak Phearun broke from inside his own half and his square pass saw Tola's shot pushed aside. From the Makara corner, Hutchinson headed inches over the top. On 78 minutes, Albirex scored their third after Hutchinson was adjudged to have handled a shot and their new Japanese signing scored from the penalty spot. With five Academy players introduced for Crown, they scored two more goals in the last four minutes. Seut Baraing slipped a pass to Ly Morslim and his deft touch took the ball over the keeper and into the net. With a minute to go, Orn Chanpolin supplied Kim and his square ball found Tola arriving at speed to fire home Crown's seventh. A game which Crown dominated from the start but one which the team will be disappointed that they conceded three goals. For Albirex, it looks like a long season ahead.
PPCFC v Albirex: Ary (Soksela 65), Dara, Da (Pisa 40 (Baraing 78)), Sarak, Hutchinson, Sothy (Sodavid 78), Suhana (Phearun 65), Sokheng (Morslim 65), Tola (Kim 30), Boran (Titchhy 46 (Chanpolin 78)), Makara (Tola 65). MOTM: Dara. Goals: Suhana (1), OG (11), Tola 2 (21, 89), Sokheng (34), Hutchinson (49), Morslim (86).
|The Albirex Niigata starting XI plus new player/coach on far left|