Sunday, November 2, 2014

Crown too good for Laos

PPCFC v Attapeu: Back row, LtoR: Bisan, Boris, Bosma, Pheng, Obadin, Yaty. Front: Pellegrino, Suhana, Sokumpheak (capt), Borey, Srin - click to enlarge

Sunday 2 November 2014: Result: PPCFC 2 Hoang Anh Attapeu – Laos 0 (Toyota Mekong Club Championship 3rd Place play-off).
Crown started on the front foot and took the game to Attapeu in the blistering heat and high humidity, at the Go Dau Stadium in Binh Duong, Vietnam, in this 3rd place play-off. Sos Suhana benefitted from a one-two with Adriano Pellegrino to find space but fired his shot straight at the legs of the Attapeu goalkeeper in the fifth minute. Two minutes later and George Bisan chested down a chip forward by Kouch Sokumpheak but watched in disbelief as his perfectly-timed volley went the wrong side of the upright. Bisan set up Khim Borey but he mis-cued his shot and then the Nigerian striker rattled the cross-bar with a blistering half-volley from just inside the area after latching onto Koen Bosma's perfect center. Not to be denied, Crown's constant pressure paid off on 21 minutes when Adriano Pellegrino’s slide-rule pass was deftly touched under the onrushing keeper by Bisan to put Crown ahead. The Nigerian hotshot celebrated with his trademark somersault. Two similar attempts had been unsuccessful but third time lucky was just what Crown needed. A minute later and Hong Pheng's looping cross saw Bosma challenge the keeper and despite getting his head to the ball, it cleared the cross-bar. Attapeu finally woke up and Sou Yaty had to be alert to touch a Sihavong free-kick around the post. A break through the middle by Lembo Saysana saw him avoid Yaty's lunge but Ngoy Srin was back to clear the danger. Yaty comfortably tipped over a long distance free-kick from Xayyabounsou before Crown re-established their control before the break. Sos Suhana moved onto a Pellegrino pull-back but blasted well over and Bosma's cross was mis-timed over his own bar by Sipasong. The two players were involved in the next action as Bosma's diving header was deflected off the defender for a corner. Another Pellegrino perfect cross on the run was touched inches wide by Bisan and Borey fired a drive across the face of goal and wide as the first-half came to end, peppered with bookings for Borey and Kok Boris.

With the second-half less than a minute old, Yaty's fingertips kept out a snap-shot from Sihavong, and Saysana fired over the top from the edge of the box. A burst past three players by Sokumpheak looked to have set up Pellegrino but the ball carried through to the keeper instead. Seven minutes after the restart and Crown got the second goal their efforts deserved. Borey won the ball and took a return pass from Bosma before sending a cross low skidding to the far post where Bisan was lurking, and he tapped the ball home with glee. Srin was booked for a tug on the shirt of Kettavong as he looked to break free, and Va Sokthorn and Leng Makara were sent on by Sam Schweingruber to liven up the flanks. Xayyabounsou held off Pheng's challenge but fired weakly at Yaty, before Crown thought they'd grabbed a third. Bisan's pull-back saw Sokthorn's shot saved by Soundala but the ball spilled out to Pellegrino who poked the ball into the net. A linesman's flag for offside ruled it out. Attapeu were not a spent force and Sihavong made the point when his free-kick struck the outside of the post from 20 yards. As the ball bounced back into play, Pellegrino sent Sokthorn racing clear from inside his own half, but his 45-yard run was halted as he hesitated and Soundala grabbed the ball off his toes. Yaty had to be alert as Sysoutham broke clear and the keeper's block was enough. At the other end, Sokthorn almost cashed in on a poor defensive header but Soundala was quick to see the danger and raced out to clear. Sokthorn was busy since his introduction and it was his pass to Pellegrino that saw the playmaker try a chip from 22 yards that just cleared the cross-bar. There was still time for Baldwin Ngwa and Ouk Sothy to stretch their legs for a few minutes before Vietnam referee Phung Dinh Dung blew for full time.

In his post-match press conference, Sam Schweingruber explained: "The scoreline didn't really reflect our control of the game. I'm very proud of the performance, good discipline, good composure, we worked the midfield very well and only for a few minutes did we have some issues with our opponents - other than that I believe we were the stronger team, better organised team, better individuals and deserved winners of third place in this competition [and $30,000 in prize money]. We applied our tactics for the game quite well, we were not planning to play as many longs balls as we did - our short passing through the midfield, where we had numerical advantage, and better quality, decided the game. It worked out as we had hoped."
PPCFC v HA Attapeu: Yaty, Pheng, Srin (Da 74), Boris, Obadin, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Sothy 88), Bosma (Sokthorn 64), Borey (Makara 67), Pellegrino, Bisan (Ngwa 84). Subs not used: Ary, Thierry. Bookings: Borey, Boris, Pellegrino. MOTM: Bisan – two goal heroics + MVP. Goals: Bisan 2 (21, 52).

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