Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crown crash out

PPCFC v BBU, back row, LtoR: Yaty, Suhana, Makara, Boris, Srin, Sokumpheak. Front Row: Da, Boran, Sothy, Pheng, Borey - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 0 BBU 1 (Hun Sen Cup Quarter-Final).
Expectations were high in the Crown camp as they faced Build Bright United, who they beat 5-0 in the league a couple of weeks earlier, for this Hun Sen Cup quarter-final tie, played at the Old Stadium. With no foreign involvement in this Khmer-only competition, also missing was midfield ace Bin Thierry with an ankle injury. In a match that was interrupted by referee Khuon Virak's whistle from the very beginning, the opening stages failed to ignite the sizeable crowd with Leng Makara heading over with Crown's first real attempt, while Sou Yaty fumbled a 40-yard free-kick by Rim Bunheang, only to recover the ball at the second attempt. After twenty minutes, Sos Suhana's dart into the penalty area was ended as he was upended from behind by Thai Phalla but Virak adjudged it not worthy of a penalty. Everyone watching disagreed. BBU were given more free-kick opportunities by the match referee with Yaty punching one away from danger, while Makara sent another header wide at the other end. Eight minutes before the break, BBU saw their best chance go begging as Phlong Chanthou blasted the ball against the cross-bar after yet another free-kick, feel at his feet. Khim Borey broke quickly and his cross was turned behind as Crown pressed, while Ouk Sothy's byeline center hit Makara and bounced to safety. With a minute to go of normal time, Virak awarded a free-kick against Kok Boris twenty-three yards from goal. Video replays show there was no contact whatsoever. Bunheang got his angles spot-on and curled the ball around the wall and out of Yaty's reach for the opening goal of the cup tie. On the stroke of half-time, Makara ballooned Crown's easiest opportunity over the bar, when Kouch Sokumpheak's corner was touched on by Suhana after BBU keeper Sos Proshim fumbled, but the striker missed the target from a few yards out. 

A minute after the restart, Chanthou appeared to push Sokumpheak as they challenged for the ball inside the BBU penalty area, but again Virak was having none of it. Play on. A dangerous two-footed tackle on Borey by Noun Phanith only merited a yellow, and Sokumpheak curled the free-kick just over the top. Another free-kick for Borey, went past the near post, and both Sokumpheak and Makara sent headers wide of the target. With twenty minutes to go, Neou Sosela, on as a sub, pounced on a loose ball after Sokumpheak and Proshim had tangled on the edge of the area, but the winger found the cross-bar instead of the gaping goal and a certain leveller was gone. It was all Crown at this stage, with BBU killing the game by persistently falling over and calling for the stretcher-bearers. Sokumpheak cut in from a short corner but his aim was wayward, and his header from Touch Sokheng's cross went straight into the arms of Proshim. As the 4th official posted six minutes of injury time, Sokheng sent a good chance harmlessly wide and as Crown searched in vain, they were caught by a breakaway only for Pech Sina to head wide with the goal at his mercy. The final whistle arrived and the look on the faces of the Crown players said it all. An inglorious end to their Hun Sen Cup hopes for the season. 

Head coach Sam Schweingruber's after-match verdict: "I'm very disappointed with the result but also with the performance. In midfield we were never sorted out, way too many long balls, turning the ball over and we certainly missed Thierry in the middle, keeping possession, switching play and patiently building-up. Very disappointed with how the referee saw the game, but that's the 2nd thought. The first thought is the disappointment with the team performance. Missing an empty goal, we should've scored a sitter right before halftime, and we hit the crossbar with an open goal in the 2nd half. Those are key moments when you have to score. Their goal was not a foul at all. It was about the sixth free kick given but I didn't see anything wrong. I haven't looked at the video, but for me nothing wrong with the challenges at all. How the referee can give 6-7 free kicks from similar positions, again and again, I didn't see a foul, and believe the referee saw what he wanted to see happening and it resulted in a goal. A couple of situations in the game where I'm very disappointed with how the ref viewed things. In particular Suhana's dart into the box, from my perspective it looked like a foul, but not given. These things change games. Now we must get them back on their feet. Give the boys a few days off to get over the disappointment and then look at ways to come back even stronger and focus on the league." 
PPCFC v BBU: Yaty, Pheng, Da (Tola 84), Srin, Boris, Sothy, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Sokheng 80), Makara, Boran (Sosela 59), Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Sarak, Tola, Sosela, Dara, Phearun, Sokheng, Morslim, Pisa. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sokumpheak - gave 110%.
Kouch Sokumpheak (10) leads out PPCFC before the Hun Sen Sup tie

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