Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rock bottom

Coach Lee Tae-Hoon: "No comment."
Blinkin' heck! Cambodia have gone and done it again. Lost to yet another late late goal, this time to one of the lowest ranked countries in the FIFA family, Timor Leste. The unfancied islanders scored the only goal of their Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy tie in the 91st minute. Okay, so we could see it coming after Cambodia went down to host country Brunei the other day in similar circumstances, but seriously, I didn't think the team would actually roll over and be beaten by Timor Leste of all people. The East Timorese have been the SEAsian whipping boys for as long as I can recall. Cambodia popped them 4-1 in the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, I was there for that, and that was after Malaysia thrashed them 11-0. The full national team beat them 4-2 in the 2010 Suzuki Cup, also in Laos. They've definitely improved in recent times, wins over Brunei and Philippines in the recent SEA Games demonstrate that, but still Cambodia should have had enough competitive experience to have put this tie to bed. Cambodia even fluffed a penalty spot-kick. It's quite clear that coach Lee Tae-Hoon has learnt nothing from his well-overdue stint in charge, where conceding late goals (and before that early goals) have been a feature of his reign. How the heck he cannot get his team to shut up shop late in the game is beyond me. Once or twice is unfortunate, but when it happens this often, then the coach is nothing short of derelict in his duty. Perhaps I shouldn't bleat too much as I always said this invitational tournament in Brunei was a waste of everyone's time and energy, and most of all a blatant disruption of the preparation for the Metfone C-League, but to lose to both Brunei and Timor Leste, countries who are 30+ places below Cambodia in the FIFA world rankings, is frankly, an embarrassment. Even the most ardent supporters of Lee Tae-Hoon on the FFC committee, a blind love affair that has baffled most football fans in Cambodia for its longevity despite what can only be described as a dismal set of failures over the past sixteen months, must see that the coach is well past his sell-by date. Personally, I don't believe he can motivate his team, and that's his problem. He doesn't get them to believe in themselves and to go out and die (not literally) for their country. Tactically he's weak and these late goals are a symptom of that. Cambodia have one more game to go, against Malaysia on Monday 5 March, but as qualification after three successive defeats is impossible, it's meaningless, much like the tournament itself. The FFC must act now to relieve the coach of his duties and get an experienced coach into salvage the position and weave some magic before the all important AFF Suzuki Cup qualification games in October.

The big kick off

Whilst we await the latest international showing by Cambodia - though if they lose to Timor Leste in Brunei tonight, then they should forget their last match and come back home early - I should bring you the matches in the opening round of the Metfone C-League. Now don't think these fixtures are written in stone. Last season, the federation published the fixture list only to change it a day or two later, so I can't guarantee the accuracy of these matches. I'm sure the FFC wanted to open the season with the champions Phnom Penh Crown meeting the Hun Sen Cup winners, Preah Khan Reach, but that's not possible as PKR are playing in the Malaysian FA Cup on 10 March. So instead they've given the dubious honour to last season's runners-up Naga Corp, who will meet the National Police team at Olympic Stadium on Saturday 10 March at 2pm. Two hours later, newboys Boeung Ket Rubber Field FC (yes, that's really their name) will face off against Kirivong. The next day, BBU meet Chhlam Samuth and the Army take on another team of new faces, Western University. Then there's a 10-day break in the list - I have no idea why, maybe the pages of the fixture coordinator's diary got stuck together - before Crown and Preah Khan get to meet head-on, on Wednesday 21 March, in the scorching heat of a 2pm kick-off time. The first round of the C-League campaign begins on 10 March and ends on 23 May. The second round starts a week later, 30 May and runs until 29 July. For reasons known only to themselves and flying in the face of football tradition and the culture of first past the post, the federation have re-introduced the Super 4 play-offs again this year. The top 4 finishers at the end of the regular domestic season will scrap it out for the title of champions. Effectively a sprint instead of a marathon, with the play-off final earmarked for Sunday 12 August. I don't agree with it but when have the federation ever listened to common sense.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The fixtures are out!

The FFC have at last released the Metfone C-League fixtures for the upcoming season, and it's been confirmed that the season will actually begin on Saturday 10 March. Phnom Penh Crown will have to wait until Wednesday 21 March to open their account, when they meet Preah Khan Reach at 2pm at the Olympic Stadium. As already known, the league championship will revert to the Super 4 play-offs again this season. The full fixture list for PPCFC is as follows:

Round 1:
Wed 21 Mar v Preah Khan 2pm
Sun 25 Mar v Western Univ 4pm
Wed 28 Mar v Naga Corp 3pm
Sun 1 Apr v Boeung Ket 4pm
Wed 4 Apr v National Police 2pm
Sun 8 Apr v Chhlam Samuth 4pm
Sat 21 Apr v BBU 4pm
Sun 29 Apr v Kirivong 2pm
Sat 19 May v National Defense 2pm

Round 2:
Sat 2 Jun v National Police 2pm
Sun 10 Jun v Western Univ 4pm
Wed 13 Jun v Boeung Ket 3pm
Sat 23 Jun v Chhlam Samuth 4pm
Sat 30 Jun v BBU 2pm
Sat 7 Jul v Kirivong 2pm
Sun 15 Jul v National Defense 2pm
Sun 22 Jul v Naga Corp 4pm
Sat 28 Jul v Preah Khan 2pm

Play-off Semi-Finals 4 & 5 Aug, Final 12 Aug.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Downed again

The Cambodia U-21s + 5 came unstuck tonight in their 2nd group match in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, much as expected. They were up against Vietnam, and even though their near neighbours fielded their U-19 team, they still proved too big a hurdle to overcome, though the result was in doubt until the very end. In theory, Cambodia's more seasoned campaigners should've been able to put up a better showing, but Vietnam netted their 2nd goal in injury time and Cambodia could only score a late consolation effort through old-pro Teab Vathanak in the final minute of time added on. Yet another disappointment for Lee Tae-Hoon's men but it didn't come as a surprise to anyone. Worryingly, Cambodia's next opponents, Timor Leste, one of the lowest-ranking teams in world football (204th out of 208), pulled off a shock 2-0 win over Malaysia's U-19s tonight and that result will strike fear into the Cambodian camp, with the two teams meeting on Wednesday night.

Bojan's back

Bojan Hodak on his 1st day in charge at Phnom Penh Crown
Bojan Hodak is fast developing a reputation for taking on some of the toughest jobs in Asian football. He started out as Shebby Singh's number 2 when Malaysian television decided to start a reality show that put together a team of no-hopers to play the national team, but it worked out so well they actually joined the league and got promotion. He then came to Phnom Penh to take on the mantle at Phnom Penh Crown and led them to the top of the table and into the AFC President's Cup final rounds before leaving last June to become the number two at the biggest team in China, Shandong Luneng. Even though they parted company with their head coach early on, Bojan remained at the club as they finished the Super League season in 5th place and were beaten finalists in the Chinese FA Cup, until the end of his contract in December. Returning to his base in Kuala Lumpur, he's now joined forces with the biggest team in Malaysia, the powerhouses and league leaders, Kelantan, taking over as head of their club's Academy and their search for the football talent of the future, at a time when he's also being tipped as the most likely replacement for 'rested' head coach Peter Butler. It's a tough situation for the likeable Croatian but he knows his stuff and finding the stars of tomorrow is something Bojan is well qualified for.
Update: Peter Butler has left Kelantan by mutual consent, and with a cheque in his back pocket, and Bojan has been asked to take charge of the team pending a formal announcement. Kelantan are top of the Malaysian Super League and have AFC Cup involvement pretty soon.

A small step

The brand new disabled toilet facility at the RSN Stadium
Facilities geared specifically towards the disabled are few and far between in Cambodia. Full stop. Let alone where sporting facilities are concerned. So I'm more than pleased to report that the disabled toilet at Phnom Penh Crown's RSN Stadium in Tuol Kork has now been constructed and is open for business. Every Sunday, the Indochina Starfish Foundation play their football matches at the Crown headquarters, with competitive games between boys and girls teams at varying age levels. ISF are extra keen to include those less able-bodied than most of us in their activities and to this end, felt it was important to improve the facilities on offer. Crown were only too happy to support their plan, and with the financial help of ISF supporters Tim Lacey and Dubai Larrikins, a dedicated toilet and ramp were recently constructed. It's a small step but an important one. And it's another addition to the ever-growing facilities at the RSN Stadium, where two futsal foootball pitches, with artificial grass, have also been completed in the last few days and are now available for the Crown first team and Academy boys to use, as well as being available for hire.
The new Crown futsal pitches a few days before their completion

Sunday, February 26, 2012

9 out of 9

Mat Sakrovy calmly rolls in his fifth goal of this morning's game
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-14 boys rattled in 16 goals without reply this morning as they thrashed the Seasiders from Sunrise in their Barclays Capital ISF Champions League match. Crown continue to lead the table, winning all of their 9 matches, scoring 98 goals and conceding none. Vat Samnang opened the floodgates and netted a hat-trick before the half-time interval. Teammate Mat Sakrovy scored two in the first-half and then scored three more after the break, including a penalty, to top score with five. In Sodavid scored a goal in each half from midfield. At the start of the second half Sraing Titchhy ventured forward from defence and fired in a long range effort, whilst an own goal added to Sunrise's woes. Additional goals came from Theang Chhaya, Vat Samnang and substitutes Yeu Muslim and Pov Ponvuthy. Crown coach Bouy Dary gave his starting line-up most of the match, instead of changing the team at half-time, as is the norm. The rest of the team had played in a friendly game against a much older Prek Kdam team on Thursday, when the Academy lost 3-7, but were up against players as old as sixteen and over. The week before, the Academy had beaten the U-15 Prek Kdam team 4-0. Also Sunday morning, the Crown B-team came unstuck against Aziza, losing 1-4 in the ISF Premier League.
The starting line-up for PPCFC. Back LtoR: Sodavid, Sakrovy, Titchhy, Chanpolin, Chanchav. Front: T Chhaya, Noeut, V Samnang, Phearath
In Sodavid weaves through to score his first goal
Mat Sakrovy keeps his cool to score from the penalty spot
Diminutive Theang Chhaya was also on the scoresheet

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It can get worse

It doesn't get much worse than losing to a country some thirty places below you in the FIFA rankings does it? Well, yes it can, just watch this space. Cambodia came unstuck against hosts Brunei tonight in their opening game of the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, losing to an injury-time goal, and going down 3-2. On Wednesday, they face Timor Leste, who are another three places below Brunei and a loss to them would be nothing short of mortifying. As it is, there's no place to hide for head coach Lee Tae-Hoon, who has left a trail of disastrous results in his wake as the man responsible for Cambodia's painfully poor international showing since he took over the reins in August 2010. Although the tournament that Cambodia are in this time around, an invitational U-21 (+ 5 overage players) competition, was meant to bring some cheer and feel-good factor to the national team squad, a loss to Brunei has done exactly the opposite. The game took place after the opening ceremony and no doubt, Brunei had the bit between their teeth, determined to give their fans something to shout about. Prak Mony Udom silenced them as early as the 7th minute with a penalty to put Cambodia ahead, only for the sultanate to level a minute before the break and to take a 75th minute lead. Substitute Chan Vathanaka brought Cambodia back to all-square on 83 minutes before Brunei came up with that late, gut-wrenching winning goal. Cambodia now need to pick themselves up to face the U-19 team of Vietnam on Monday in their next group game. They have an opportunity to put matters right against their younger opponents, but any Vietnam team is a tough proposition, and Cambodia will need to show their mettle to get anything out of the encounter. I won't hold my breath.

Pheng's on target

Annoyingly, I was unable to get to Kompong Cham this afternoon to watch Phnom Penh Crown's 2-1 practice match success over the home team, Boeung Ket Rubber Field football club. Quite a mouthful. However, the guys on the bench kept me up to date with the game's progress. Hong Pheng opened the scoring after just 2 minutes with Soeng Vanthan providing the pass, whilst Sok Pheng took aim from 25 yards and sent his shot fizzing past his former teammate Peng Bunchhay in the Boeung Ket goal to make it 2-0 for a youthful starting line-up for Crown, twenty minutes later. Crown had a handful of other chances to increase their advantage. The Rubbermen pulled a goal back five minutes before the interval and despite a complete switch of players, there were no goals after the break, with Crown running out 2-1 victors. Head coach David Booth chose to start with a young line-up, leaving most of his first-choice regulars keeping the bench warm until the interval, and the starting XI gave him the response he was looking for, on a pitch which made neat passing football an impossibility. He also gave a starting role to Chan Chaya, who has been training with the club in recent weeks.
Crown line-up: Oudom (Ary), Dara (Rady), Vanthan (Sovan), Lika (Tiny), Srin (Obadin), Sophanal (Sovanna), Rathanak (Sothy), Chaya (Asonibe), Makara (Suhana), S Pheng (Borey), H Pheng (Sokumpheak).

Friday, February 24, 2012

On a whim

The Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy For Asean Youth Football Championship 2012 has started. In case you weren't aware, it's an invitational tournament for Asean countries to send their Under-21 teams, it's being hosted in Brunei and involves ten teams, following the recent withdrawal of the favourites Thailand. It began today and will finish on 9 March. When I say U-21 teams, that's not exactly true, as five over-age players are allowed in each squad of 18 players and three can play in a game. Why, I don't know and no-one can explain it either. It couldn't come at a worse time for the Cambodian League, which was due to begin on 3 March but seems likely to be put back to allow the 18 Cambodian players to return to their clubs. It's held when the whim takes them - this is the 4th time since 2002 - and with the brand new AFC U-22 tournament coming to fruition for the first time in June, with 40 countries taking part, it's a tournament that everyone could do without, especially as its disrupted the pre-season preparation of some teams. On the plus side it will give international experience to some of the younger squad players such as three of the teenagers from Preah Khan Reach. Cambodia's U-21s + 5, will start against the host nation tomorrow at 9pm Brunei time, immediately following the opening ceremony. Lee Tae-Hoon and his charges then have games against Vietnam (on Monday), Timor Leste (Wednesday) and Malaysia (Monday 5 Mar). I don't expect Cambodia to be amongst the top two teams in the two groups to progress to the semi-finals. From Cambodia's group, that will be Vietnam and Malaysia, unless there's a monumental shock of tsunami proportions. Myanmar kicked off the tourney with an 8-2 demolition of the Philippines today. You can keep up to speed as the tournament progresses here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crown's friendly line-ups

PPCFC v AEUniv: Back LtoR: Dara, Sothy, Ary, Suhana, Da, Lika. Front: S Pheng, Borey, Sovanna, Sokumpheak, Tiny
Yesterday's 2-1 victory over Western University was Phnom Penh Crown's fourth pre-season practice match in the lead up to the forthcoming Metfone C-League campaign. Crown have already played 4 games in the Hun Sen Cup but the three earlier friendly matches were essentially 'behind closed doors' games as coach David Booth sought to get a good look at players in match situations, that would form his squad for the new season.
They opened up with a 6-0 win over Chhlam Samuth on 15 December with 2 goals from Sos Suhana, 2 from Hok Sochivorn and a goal apiece by Khim Borey and Chhun Sovanna. The starting line-up consisted mainly of the club's trialists at that time. The PPCFC line-up was: Chamroeun (Oudom), Da (Dara), Rahan (Sovan), Srin (Lika), Seyha (Tiny), Sothy, Sovanna (Rathanak), Suhana (Sochivorn), Makara (Sokumpheak), Borey (Kimhor), S Pheng (Sophanal (H Pheng)).
The next practice match was a 4-1 success over Asia Euro University, again played at RSN Stadium, on 28 December. Sos Suhana netted another two goals and Sok Pheng and Hong Pheng also scored. The PPCFC line-up was: Ary (Oudom), Da (Sovan), Dara (Rahan (Vanthan)), Tiny (Seyha), Lika (Srin), Sovanna (Kimhor), Sothy (Sophanal), Suhana (Sochivorn), S Pheng (H Pheng), Borey (Rathanak), Sokumpheak (Makara).
The third friendly encounter was against the National Defense Ministry on 11 January. Crown ran out 4-1 winners with goals from Khim Borey, against his former club, Sok Pheng, Chim Rathanak and Ouk Sothy. The line-up was: Oudom (Ary (Chamroeun)), Da (Dara), Rahan (Vanthan), Seyha (Srin), Lika (Tiny), Sothy (Sophanal), Sovanna (Kimhor), Suhana (Rathanak), Borey (Sochivorn), S Pheng (H Pheng), Sokumpheak (Makara).
The Crown team that played in yesterday's 2-1 win over Western University at Tuol Kork was: Oudom (Ary), Dara (Rady), Seyha (Sophanal (Tiny)), Sovan (Chaya), Obadin (Lika), Sovanna (Dara), Sothy, Asonibe, Suhana (Makara), Borey (Samoeun), Sokumpheak (S Pheng). Sos Suhana again scored two goals.
PPCFC v Nat Defense: Back LtoR: Da, Rahan, Seyha, Sothy, Lika, S Pheng. Front: Borey, Sokumpheak, Oudom, Suhana, Sovanna

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A friendly win

PPCFC starting line-up: Back LtoR: Sovan, Obadin, Sothy, Dara, Borey, Sovanna. Front: Asonibe, Oudom, Suhana, Seyha, Sokumpheak
Phnom Penh Crown played their first practice match since their failure to progress in the Hun Sen Cup past the quarter-final stage, early this morning. Facing Metfone C-League newcomers Western University at the RSN Stadium in Tuol Kork, the Crown side ran out 2-1 winners with all the goals coming in the first half. Crown coach David Booth used the match to look over a few new faces including combative midfielder Henry Asonibe, who played for Spark and Wat Phnom a couple of years ago and has just returned from Thailand, as well as giving second-half run-outs to right-back Pheak Rady from the Army and teenage striker Ros Samoeun from Chhlam Samuth.

Western provided a good test, though Crown's passing game kept them on the backfoot for long periods. Sos Suhana struck the crossbar with a rasping shot after just a few minutes and Western did the same moments later as the game began brightly. Asonibe had a great chance to open the scoring but blasted too high when set up by a neat Kouch Sokumpheak backheel, before Crown took the lead on 25 minutes. Khim Borey whipped in a stinging drive which the Western keeper parried out only for Sos Suhana to head the bouncing ball over his head and into the net. Crown went close again with Sokumpheak firing wide and heading a corner over the top. Western were back in the game on 33 minutes when a 25 yard free-kick looked to be safely gathered in by Crown keeper Am Oudom, playing against his former club, only for the stopper to somehow juggle the ball over the goal-line for the equaliser. With a couple of minutes left before half-time, Chhun Sovanna's pass found Odion Obadin in space but his shot was blocked by the keeper, only for Koem Sophanal to roll the ball into the path of Sos Suhana and he whacked the ball into the top corner for his second and Crown's second of the game.

Crown coach Booth rang the changes at the interval and throughout the second half. Pheak Rady took over at right-back, with Ros Samoeun, who netted half a dozen goals for Chhlam Samuth in the Hun Sen Cup recently, using his pace on the right flank. Sok Pheng had a shot on the turn saved low down but the chances were far fewer than in the first period and it needed a good diving save from Yok Ary to ensure Crown came out on top in this friendly encounter. A familiar face made a late appearance when Chan Chaya, who has been keeping fit with Crown over the last few weeks after his release from his contract in December, came on at left-back.
PPCFC line-up: Oudom (Ary 46), Dara (Rady 46), Seyha (Sophanal 24 (Tiny 46)), Sovan (Chaya 76), Obadin (Lika 84), Sovanna (Dara 65), Sothy, Asonibe, Suhana (Makara 72), Borey (Samoeun 46), Sokumpheak (S Pheng 46).
Another practice match for Crown looks set to take place on Saturday at 2pm at the home of newboys Boeung Ket in Kompong Cham province. And a further game has been pencilled in for Wednesday (29 Feb) at Tuol Kork with opponents still to be confirmed.
Henry Asonibe tries some trickery in the box
Half-time team talk from coach David Booth
Henry Asonibe has been training with Crown recently
A birds-eye view of the Crown squad before the game
The Crown Academy boys testing out the new futsal pitch at the RSN Stadium

Monday, February 20, 2012

Perfect record

Turning their league campaign tally into 8 games, 8 wins, 82 goals scored and none conceded, the Phnom Penh Crown Academy team gave the ISF Flying Tigers a 5-0 thumping on Sunday afternoon in their Barclays Capital ISF Champions League game. 1st half goals from Mat Sakrovy, Theang Chhaya and Vat Samnang put them in the driving seat and two more goals from Yeu Muslim and Pov Ponvuthy after the break sealed yet another success. The Academy boys head the table with 24 points from eight games, with Preah Khan in 2nd spot on 19 points and the Juice Masters of CColt on 18 points. The PPCFC 'B' team (Academy and younger non-Academy players) in the Premier League lost out to second-placed ANCD Bulls (A New Day) 2-6, and remain in 3rd spot, having played a game less. Komar Takhmau have a perfect record at the top after eight matches.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skewed vision

So they've gone and done it. The football federation of Cambodia have reverted back to type and re-introduced the Super 4 play-offs for the end of the coming Metfone C-League season. This shambolic way of deciding the season's league champions goes against everything that football culture and tradition stands for. It's purely driven by greed, something that generates a lot of interest in administrative circles in this country. The 2009 and 2010 editions of the C-League were decided by play-offs and the two teams that finished top of the regular season campaign, and who should've been crowned as champions, lost out in this end-of-term free-for-all. In anyone's book, that simply isn't right or fair. First past the post rewards the best team. Yet the FFC have, in their skewed wisdom, decided that after last season, when Phnom Penh Crown won the title with a game to spare, that they want a return to the play-off format. This way of deciding the champions of a professional league is not followed in any country where football has a tradition, and where those traditions and values mean something. Forget that crap, say the FFC, we want more money. Their general secretary backs it up with; "This format is also used by leagues in other countries [such as the MLS in the US]." So that makes it okay because the money-grabbing, glory-hunters of the American mickey mouse league do it. How about taking the example of the Barclays Premier League or the Spanish La Liga, or the Italian Serie A as your benchmark Cambodia. He went onto say; "Our aim with the Super 4 playoffs is to attract more spectators nearing the end of the competition and to heighten the drama." Phnom Penh Crown for example were winners and losers when the play-offs were previously in place. They won the league in 2009 but lost out in sudden death, though they won the title in 2010 after finishing the regular league season in 4th spot. Effectively it becomes a lottery with the team on top of their game - in the right place at the right time - likely to take the top honour.

When asked why the FFC have declared the start of the C-League season just two weeks in advance - it's set to run from 3 March to 5 August - the general secretary pointed the finger at recent changes in schedules for international tournaments involving the Cambodian national team and clubs bound for regional competitions had forced such a late decison. "But every team should know that we always start sometime in March." Absolute crap. The FFC were making noises that the league would start in April or even May and then have this week decided to bring the start date forward, leaving the 10 teams scrambling around to finish their pre-season preparation and in some cases, sign players. The FFC knew the international schedule far in advance as well as when clubs like Crown and Preah Khan Reach would play overseas. He also came out with the priceless "inevitable" to describe the complete balls-up that sees the Cambodian U-21 team playing in a worthless tournament in Brunei, with a squad of 18 of the best young talent from six clubs, at exactly the same time as the league season commences at home. It's another inglorious example of the ineptitude of the federation that they don't know their arse from their elbow, let alone how to run a professional football competition. We saw that with the Hun Sen Cup fiasco and teams playing every two days, and now history is repeating itself with the forthcoming Metfone C-League.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Substantial backers

Interesting developments afoot at Preah Khan Reach, who are basking in the limelight after their Hun Sen Cup success on Sunday. It's emerged that the club has found substantial backing for the coming season from one of the new Vietnamese banks to open up offices in Phnom Penh recently, the SHB Bank, aka Saigon-Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank. PKR are historically backed by the Military Police, and presumably the close ties between the armed forces and Vietnam have helped to sweeten this new sponsorship deal. Financial details hinted at suggest PKR will get $100,000 per year and a prod to engage foreign players once again. In the meantime, PKR are off to Malaysia for their first round tie against Penang AUCMS in four days time, in their first-ever venture into the Malaysian FA Cup competition. The word is that Penang, who play in the third tier in Malaysia, are up shit creek without a paddle having been relegated again and with financial woes, so PKR may just be in with a shout of success. Over at high-spending Naga Corp, who also have substantial backers in the shape of Nagaworld Hotel and entertainment hub, their team were introduced to the media recently as a part of opening celebrations for the hotel's new NagaRock. I had to smile when I read the publicity blurb that said; "As an avid supporter of youth & sports development, Nagaworld believes in inspiring the youth of Cambodia to dream big and work relentlessly towards their goals." They obviously forgot that their squad is the oldest, by a country mile, in the C-League and they've just signed four more experienced campaigners after their release from Phnom Penh Crown.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Another tournament

With the main focus for the Cambodian national team on the AFF Suzuki Cup in October this year, another international competition has just been added to the schedule. However, its not for the full Cambodian team but at the Under-22 age level. It's the newly-formed AFC U-22 Asian Cup 2013, which the AFC are saying will become one of the most important international tournaments in Asia. The draw for the qualification groups, seven in total, was made earlier today and Cambodia, one of 41 countries taking part, was drawn in Group F of the East Asia region, along with DPR Korea, China PR, Thailand, Hong Kong and Laos. The qualifying group matches will begin in late June 2012 and into July, midway through the Metfone C-League campaign. Cambodia were not one of the seeded teams and though highly improbable that they will appear, the finals of the competition, with sixteen teams, will be held in June 2013. There is no mention yet of where these qualifying matches will take place. The preparation for the upcoming Brunei U-21 tournament (end of this month) has already disrupted the pre-season programme for some clubs and this new competition looks set to do the same during the C-League campaign, whenever it finally gets underway.

Talking of the pointless Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy tournament for U-21 players from eleven countries (plus 5 overage players allowed in each squad) in Brunei, the Cambodian squad of 18 players has been announced. Their first game is against Vietnam on 24 Feb; then 26 Feb versus Malaysia; 2 Mar v Timor Leste; 4 Mar v Thailand. The squad includes 7 players from Preah Khan Reach (Sophea, Sothearoth, Daravorn, Rithy, PM Udom, Vathanaka, Saray), 6 from Army (Yaty, Khemarin, U Dara, Chhoeurn, Phearith, Soksana), 2 from Police (Piseth, Srey Udom) and 1 apiece from Boeung Ket (Pancharong), BBU (Sothearath) and Naga (Vathanak). No PPCFC players were involved in the build-up for the tournament and therefore not considered.


Kouch Sokumpheak modelling the PPCFC blue kit
Yesterday I finally managed to see the new blue Phnom Penh Crown playing kit, which wasn't quite ready for the press conference we held recently. It's not exactly the away kit as such, but it's a second option when there's a clash of colours with our main red kit. We're currently in the middle of a competition for our supporters to design a new playing kit for the club to wear in the C-League, though with the possibility emerging that the league campaign will start in just over two weeks, we won't have time to decide on the design and to get it the kit made in time for the kick-off. I'm still waiting to hear confirmation that the C-League will begin on 3 March. I find it totally insane that the FFC would decide to start the league when they have taken around 20 players to an international friendly tournament in Brunei, potentially robbing teams of some of their best players. It simply doesn't make sense, unless the teams involving those players are allowed to postpone their opening matches, which then makes a mockery of the start of the season. Why don't they just delay it? As it is, if the start is 3 March, that's just over two weeks notice to clubs that the league season will begin. What sort of hairbrained planning is that, giving clubs two weeks notice to start their season. The fixtures should be decided months in advance, not a couple of weeks. In addition, this worthless tournament in Brunei will interrupt the preparation of the teams at a crucial time, with the national team coach needing his players in time for their first match in Brunei in ten days time, on 24 Feb. It's a complete shambles, with the FFC offering no direction whatsoever, let alone any public announcements of their decisions. To cap it all, I've been told that the league season may be decided by a return to the Super 4 play-offs that we endured in 2009 and 2010 but which are not the way to decide a league championship in anyone's book. I hope this suggestion does not come to fruition but I have a bad feeling about anything the federation touches.
The back of the blue playing jersey

Monday, February 13, 2012

Start date?

I have now heard from two sources that the Metfone C-League will kick-off on Saturday 3 March. That's under 3 weeks away. But still no formal comment from the football federation. That in itself is an indictment of how poorly professional football is administered in this country. Everyone and their dog should be aware of when a country's top league will start, months in advance, with a full fixture list, taking into account international match-days, etc. Fat chance of that here. We had two weeks notice of the Hun Sen Cup competition, which they then squeezed into twelve days making it less than the country's FA Cup and more like a pre-season kickabout tournament, and that was after the FFC requested players miss their teams' pre-season preparation to join national squad training ahead of a worthless U-21 tournament in Brunei. Now the word is that the Cambodian League season will begin at the start of March, which in itself, would be incredibly stupid given that the Cambodia U-21 squad will play in Brunei on 2 and 4 March, either side of the supposed start date. Not even the FFC would schedule their start date in the middle of an international competition...or would they? Nothing surprises me anymore. The fact that we've been waiting to hear when the C-League campaign would get underway for the past few months, and then a date less than three weeks hence gets touted around, just about sums up what we've come to expect from those in charge of football in Cambodia. Despite rumours that the FFC have agreed to undo the ban on two players, deemed ineligible for the Hun Sen Cup, there has been no official word yet. So I'm still unable to bring you confirmation that it's true.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Academy view

Choun Chanchav breaking from midfield to score this afternoon
A few more snaps from this afternoon's feast of goals at the Phnom Penh Crown Tuol Kork stadium as the Academy team swept aside CCF 15-0 and the 'B' also came out on top, 8-6. Crown's new artificial grass futsal pitches are nearing completion. The grass is down, sand has been added and a rubber bonding is the last layer before the pitches are ready to go.
Ouk Sovann takes on the last defender before scoring
Choun Chanchav sent this effort inches wide
Seut Baraing ventures forward from defence
Vat Samnang in midfield action
Academy coach Kao Kiry gives the 'B' team some halftime advice
Choun Chanchav tries to avoid eye contact with the coach
Lots of eye contact from Pov Ponvuthy and Vat Samnang
A look at Crown's new artificial grass pitches
The artificial grass needs sand and a rubber bonding before its ready to use

Another good hiding

Yeu Muslim volleys his 2nd goal this afternoon
The Academy team that netted ten in the 2nd half v CCF. Back Row LtoR: Sakrovy, Baraing, Titchhy, Sovann, Chanpolin. Front: Noeut, T Chhaya, Muslim, Chanchav
The youngsters from the Cambodian Children's Fund U-14s team didn't stand an earthly against the Phnom Penh Crown Academy team this afternoon in their Barclays Capital ISF Champions League encounter. They were 5-nil behind at half-time and by the end had succumbed 15-0 as the Academy boys turned up the heat after the interval. Their passing game left CCF dizzy and their extra fitness meant they were relentless in their search for goals. They now have 77 goals in 7 league games, without conceding at all. In Sodavid opened the floodgates as early as the 2nd minute but CCF rallied and it took two goals in a minute to put PPCFC firmly in the driving seat. Pov Ponvuthy and Ken Chansopheak were on target. Men Piphop scored from the penalty spot and then Vat Samnang finished it off before the half-time break. By the end of the game, eleven different players got on the scoresheet for PPCFC with Yeu Muslim scoring the first of his four goals a minute after the restart. Orn Chanpolin strode through from midfield to slam home another one, before Mat Sakrovy netted two goals in as many minutes. Ouk Sovann ventured upfield from the back to score, before a goal apiece from Theang Chhaya and Choun Chanchav before Muslim wrapped it up with a seven minute hat-trick. The PPCFC 'B' team in the Premier League won a goal fest 8-6 against Sunshine with Svang Samnang scoring three and Kim Chhaya two.
The Academy starting line-up: Back Row LtoR: Piphop, Sodavid, Titchhy, Senteang. Front: Ponvuthy, Phearath, Chansopheak, Rozak, V Samnang

Laboravy seals it

Khuon Laboravy scored the winning goal for Preah Khan Reach in extra time against a very tired Naga and then promptly got sent off, first for taking his shirt off in celebration and then for what the referee saw as time-wasting. So an inglorious end to his Hun Sen Cup final, but did he care - of course not, his goal won PKR the cup and he also picked up the Golden Boot for the 2nd year running, which pocketed him 1,000,000 riel. Whilst PKR's 2-1 win was predictable, the final itself was pretty poor fare as I watched it live on TVK. Chhim Sambo opened up for Naga, Prak Mony Udom levelled a minute before the interval and it was left to Laboravy to practically claim the cup for himself with the winner, his 22nd of the competition, in the second period of extra time. PKR get $20K for their win, and also claimed the top scorer and best keeper (Sar Sophea) prizes, whilst Naga got $10K for 2nd spot and also nicked the Fair Play award. The referee award went to the same guy it always goes to, Thong Chankethya, in my view the worst of the bunch.
Interesting to see three former Phnom Penh Crown players who've joined Naga after their release a couple of months ago but were suspended for the whole Hun Sen Cup competition and more, because of their behaviour at the AFC President's Cup last season, though they still went up to collect their runners-up medals. They were Thul Sothearith, Sun Sopanha and Sun Sovannrithy. I didn't see San Narith, who has also hooked up with Naga, but I'm sure he was there somewhere. The television coverage was pretty murky underneath the less than illuminating floodlights.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's all the rage

As expected, National Police made short work of Chhlam Samuth in the 3rd place play-off for the Hun Sen Cup this afternoon, just 24 hours after the two teams lost out in the semi-finals. There seems to be a penchant for name changes this season with two Policemen sporting new monikers for the new campaign. Sophal Udom, Police captain and member of the national team squad from time to time, is now to be known as Srey Udom, and he put the Police ahead from the penalty spot. There other two goals, either side of half-time came courtesy of Long Nasy, who has undergone a transformation into So Rasy. Goodness knows how or why these players have changed their names. I know Cambodian coaches have a habit of tampering with player's dates of birth but have these players been playing under assumed names up til now? The FFC have previously accepted their old names and now their new versions, so they're involved. Perhaps they'd like to comment. The cup final is at 4pm tomorrow, between, as everyone guessed, Naga and Preah Khan. I expect the latter to repeat their success of last term and capture the cup. Naga have their own name changer in Choun Chum, who use to be Chin Chum, having played in the league and for the national team for a long time, but only now, decided to amend his identity. The plot thickens.

Friday, February 10, 2012

In training

The AFC A license coaching course has come to Phnom Penh. With 26 participants and overseen by an AFC instructor alongwith Naga coach Prak Sovannara, the course will last from today until 7 March at Cheng Meng. And it's pretty intensive according to Phnom Penh Crown coach David Booth, who successfully completed the same course in November in Manila. For him it was a 27-day straight through course and with just 4 successful passes out of 18 participants, the bar is raised high. So the coaches taking the current course will have their work cut out to pass. The participants include goalkeeping coach Prak Sovanny and player Hok Sochivorn from Phnom Penh Crown, Sochivorn's brother Hok Sochetra, a smattering of coaches from C-League teams including the Army, Police, Boeung Ket and BBU, Meas Channa, the Cambodian national team number 2, as well as Sam Schweingruber of the SALT Academy in Battambang.

A little bird has told me that some good news is imminent regarding the absence of one of Phnom Penh Crown's best players, sidelined through a ban that simply should've never been implemented. Too late to help Crown in their bid for the Hun Sen Cup but at least sense has prevailed at last, if the little bird is to be believed. I won't believe it until I see it typed up and signed by every member of the FFC executive committee.

The Hun Sen Cup semi-finals were held at Olympic today. I didn't go, as I had to work. Having the semi-finals of the country's top cup competition in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday stinks. In fact this whole competition stinks. The FFC have completely lost the plot in condensing it into a matter of days. For the record, the two obvious teams won through to Sunday's final, namely Preah Khan and Naga Corp. PKR beat National Police 4-0 with that man Laboravy getting two more goals to add to his growing tally. In the other semi, Naga, with Chhim Sambo netting twice, overcame Chhlam Smuth 4-0 as well. Just to make you laugh out loud, the 3rd place play-off is tomorrow, so the Police and Chhlam Samuth have to play again, 24 hours after their hard-fought semis. The FFC really are taking the piss.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cup surprises

National Police are through to the cup semi-finals
The results from the other Hun Sen Cup quarter-finals, following on from Preah Khan Reach's 4-0 win over Crown, saw National Police spring a surprise in beating BBU 2-1, with two late goals. I'm pretty sure Police will now meet PKR in the semis, unless the federation have changed the draw, which is very likely. At the Olympic Stadium, Naga Corp needed a Teab Vathanak goal four minutes from the end to defeat Kirivong. And another shock lay in store in the last quarter-final with a defeat of the Army by Chhlam Samuth, on penalties, 1-1 after extra time then 6-5 on spot-kicks. That's a bit of poetic justice for the military boys who have stuck their oar in to deny Crown and Boeung Ket from fielding their strongest teams in this competition. The semi-final pairings look set to offer up a Naga v PKR cup final this coming Sunday, if everyone reads the script carefully. The semis are on Friday (tomorrow).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No excuses

"Okay lads let's get changed before the spectators arrive"
A final look at Phnom Penh Crown's Hun Sen Cup adventures for 2012. They were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage again, by a well-drilled reigning cup holders Preah Khan Reach 4-0 this afternoon. No excuses, beaten by a better team on the day. It's a competition Crown have under-performed in for the last two years after winning the cup in 2008 and 2009. The match was played at the the appalling Army Stadium, where the teams were forced to change on the steps of the grandstand, for what is supposed to be a professional football competition. It makes me wince every time we play a match there. The pitch was as piss-poor as usual, with a bone-hard, uneven surface, a bounce that defies the law of gravity and large sections missing even a hint of grass. The federation need to have their heads examined if they think this ground is good enough to host the country's version of the FA Cup.
Coach David Booth has a captive audience
Discussing the role of the midfield trio
Kouch Sokumpheak leads out the Crown team
"Play it tight for the first 15 minutes" - an instruction that went unheeded
Referee Neang Sorithya in mid-toss with the captains looking on
Preah Khan Reach, 4-0 winners on the day

Tough lessons to learn

PPCFC v Preah Khan: Back Row LtoR: S Pheng, Seyha, Tiny, Chamrouen, H Pheng, Sovanna. Front: Sothy, Sovan, Suhana, Makara, Sokumpheak
If you hand a team like Preah Khan Reach guilt-edged opportunities as early as the first minute of a cup tie, then you know you are in for a tough task. And so it proved for Phnom Penh Crown in today's Hun Sen Cup Quarter-Final. With coach David Booth admitting beforehand that the match was a "tough game for my team, but it will show where we are at this moment," whilst a "keep it tight for the first fifteen minutes" was his advice to his starting line-up, his new-look charges gifted their old foes a goal in the first minute. Tim Saray's hopeful center found Khuon Laboravy in all kinds of space at the far post and without a marker in sight, he made no mistake from fifteen yards out. It was a punch in the kidneys for Booth and his boys, and easy pickings for the cup's top scorer. But two minutes later it could've all been so different. Tieng Tiny's free-kick from 25 yards out found the head of the diving Kouch Sokumpheak but his firm header cleared the crossbar by inches and the chance to level was lost. Two excellent reaction saves by Crown stopper Sam Chamrouen, first from Sok Rithy's close range volley and then from Laboravy, after he'd outpaced Leng Makara, earned the admiration of his teammates. But it was to no avail as another schoolboy howler gifted PKR their second goal on 19 minutes. Chhun Sovanna tried to play his way out of a tight spot, was robbed of the ball leaving Laboravy with a sprint into the box and a low center that was easily converted by Phany Rotha at the far post. As if that wasn't bad enough, eight minutes later, Sok Sovan repeated his teammates' faux pas, losing the ball to Sok Chanraksmey and he rolled the ball across the face of goal to give Laboravy the easiest of tap-ins. Crown had given themselves a veritable mountain to climb.

Kouch Sokumpheak was wayward with a couple of half chances as the interval approached and Hong Pheng was equally wasteful on the stroke of half-time. Crown did their best to get back into the tie after the break but found the bumpy pitch, and their opponents, hard to dominate. Hong Pheng leaned back and fired wildly over, whilst Sok Pheng blasted the ball into the side netting after Sokumpheak fed him in the box. PKR keeper Sar Sophea flapped at an Ouk Sothy free-kick, but recovered to tip Hong Pheng's rebound header an inch past the far post. Sokumpheak and Sok Pheng had further attempts, the latter's 30-yard grubber was held by Sophea diving to his right, but with eight minutes remaining, Sok Pheng lost his cool, was booked for dissent, and ordered off for his second caution of the game. That mountain just got considerably tougher for Crown. Chamrouen again showed his quick reactions with a stunning double save from Chea Samnang as PKR used their numerical advantage well, but also saw red with a minute of the tie to go. Prak Mony Udom sprang through Crown's backline and the goalkeeper touched his foot, sending the striker sprawling. Referee Neang Sorithya brandished the red card despite Chamrouen's protestations, leaving Udom to fire the penalty past substitute keeper Am Oudom a minute into time added on. It was the final nail in a weighty coffin for Crown to bear.

David Booth's succinct, "Three mistakes, three goals. It's as simple as that," summed up his team's first-half ineptitude and signalled the groundwork that the English coach will have to focus on before the start of the league season in a couple of months. His team is young and inexperienced, even compared to PKR's youthful line-up, and today it was clear for all to see. The loss of Khim Borey to the football federation's appalling shenanigans was a real blow to Crown's confidence before the game, but individual errors in key areas of the pitch are going to be punished by a team of PKR's calibre. Those are some of the lessons that must be learned by Booth's youngsters.
PPCFC line-up:
Chamrouen, Makara, Seyha, Tiny, Sovan, Sovanna, Sothy, Suhana, Sok Pheng, Hong Pheng (Oudom 91), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Ary, Dara, Da, Vanthan, Lika, Kimhor, Srin, Sophanal, Sochivorn. Bookings: Sovan, S Pheng (+ red card 82), Chamrouen (straight red card 89).
Kouch Sokumpheak focusing on the game ahead. Khuon Laboravy (11) also in shot.
The teams introduce themselves to each other

Out on their ear

Final words from the coach before Crown step over the line
Phnom Penh Crown were dumped unceremoniously out of the Hun Sen Cup this afternoon, by a clinical and workmanlike performance from old foes Preah Khan Reach. Three schoolboy howlers by Crown in the first-half left them with a mountain to climb and the final minute 4th was just another kick in the teeth that left Crown battered and bleeding with a 4-0 deficit. It wasn't a pretty sight, as Crown exited the cup competition at the quarter-final stage for the 2nd year running. It's certainly a wake-up call for the new-look team, who found themselves up against well-drilled opponents, who didn't take any prisoners, as they look set to hold onto the cup they won last term. As he left the pitch, Crown coach David Booth said; "Three mistakes, three goals. It's as simple as that." It was Booth's first defeat against domestic opposition since his arrival eight months ago. More from the match later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cup draws

The final matches of Group C and D in the Hun Sen Cup were played yesterday and the quarter-finals, to be played tomorrow, were decided. Preah Khan Reach fielded a young team and thumped Stung Treng at Olympic Stadium 13-1. Khuon Laboravy stood on the goal-line and netted 11 goals (7 of them in the 1st half) to take his competition tally to 17. He won the Golden Boot last season with 22 goals. They now meet Phnom Penh Crown in the 1.45pm kick-off at Army Stadium tomorrow. BBU thrashed Koh Kong 8-2 but shared the goals around the team. As the 2nd team in Group C, they meet the winners of Group D, National Police at 4pm tomorrow. The Police went to town on luckless Kratie, winning 22-0 with 7 goals apiece from Srey Udom and Man Ritavann amongst that tally. The Police's goal difference was 23 compared to Crown's 17, after the latter beat Boeung Ket 1-0, courtesy of a Kouch Sokumpheak goal. The other QF's will involve Naga, who walked over Battambang 10-0 with Teab Vathanak netting 7 goals, who meet Kirivong, while the Army face off against Chhlam Samuth, both games at the Olympic Stadium.

The draw for the pointless Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei for U-21 teams + overage players has been made. The tournament dates have been extended to get all the games in and Cambodia will kick off the tournament against Vietnam on 24 Feb in Group B. There's nothing like getting a good thumping in your 1st game, though Vietnam might give Cambodia a chance by fielding their youth team. Cambodia then face the following matches: 26 Feb versus Malaysia; 2 Mar v Timor Leste; 4 Mar v Thailand. The final will take place on 9 Mar. Don't expect Cambodia to get anywhere near it.

Hip-hop Crown

Amazing what you come across when you while away a few minutes on YouTube. Uploaded a few days ago was a video-song titled Phnom Penh Crown Theme Song mp4 (their title, not mine), which turns out to be a hip-hop rap version by persons unknown (at this stage). Certainly not the usual football song you hear but hip-hop rap is popular amongst the youth in Cambodia, so I suppose it works for some. When I find out who is responsible for it, I'll let you know. Just a pity they used an out of date poster for the video. You can hear it for yourself here.

Would you Adam & Eve it (believe it)...this hip-hop rap was commissioned by the club without my knowledge, so it's our official Theme Song. The artist is one of the hundreds of DJs plying their trade in Cambodia, but I'm told he's one of the best. His name is DJ Kdeb. He's worked with my fave Meas Soksophea, so he can't be that bad. In fact we should've asked Sophea to do our song, that would've worked well for me. I must admit I'm not a fan of hip-hop rap. The whole genre has literally passed me by.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Leading from the front

PPCC v Boeung Ket. Back Row LtoR: Tiny, Sothy, H Pheng, Chamrouen, Socanna, Sovan. Front: S Pheng, Seyha, Makara, Suhaha, Sokumpheak
Group D of the Hun Sen Cup was decided by this afternoon's matches at the Army Stadium. Phnom Penh Crown defeated Boeung Ket 1-0 to knock the Kompong Cham-based team out and then National Police ran riot against a demoralised Kratie team, winning 22-0 and claiming top spot in the group at the same time. It means that Crown now face Preah Khan Reach in a mouth-watering quarter-final on Wednesday, same venue, at 1.45pm, whilst Police meet BBU a little later.

For Crown, the talismanic Kouch Sokumpheak, given the captain's armband by coach David Booth for today's game, led by example and scored the only goal of the match to win the tie. And it was a goal worthy of winning any match as the striker began the move from deep and finished it with a blistering drive from a tight angle that gave the Boeung Ket keeper no chance. More of that later. Needing a victory to qualify themselves, Boeung Ket began like a train and their former Crown starlet, Keo Sokngorn twice came closest to scoring. On six minutes he flashed a header inches too high and then struck the cross-bar with a long distance speculative free-kick four minutes later, that Sam Chamrouen in the Crown goal, mysteriously left. Fifteen minutes in and Crown's first real effort saw Sok Pheng's twenty yard shot deflected wide. Soon after, Sokumpheak fed Pheng and his shot on the turn was parried out by opposition goalkeeper Sin Pisal, with no-one following up. Ouk Sothy was next to try his luck for Crown but Lor Pichseyla blocked the attempt. The last action of the first-half saw Sok Pheng again test Pisal with a stinging drive but to no avail as the keeper blocked it low down.

After the interval, Crown maintained their grip on possession and Sokumpheak was off target with a glancing header from a Hong Pheng cross twelve minutes in. The Crown captain then began and ended a quick-passing move with Sos Suhana by unleashing a powerful drive across the face of Sin Pisal and into the Boeung Ket net on 68 minutes. It was his 11th goal of the competition and an unstoppable effort that livened up the tense game considerably. Boeung Ket's best chance of an equaliser fell again to Sokngorn on 73 minutes. Yob Romaton set him up with a chested ball down but the Boeung Ket skipper's flashing drive sailed over the crossbar from the edge of the area and their fate was effectively sealed. After his 12 goals two days before, Sokngorn's shooting boots were definitely not in good working order. The game petered out into a scrappy finale with too many free-kicks, injuries, bookings and then a straight red card in injury time when Touch Pancharong left his foot in on Crown's Chhun Sovanna as he made a clearance. It's a characteristic of Pancharong's game that he regularly lets himself, and his team down. He had a dust up with Phoung Narong last season and now with Sovanna, all three of them were colleagues at Crown in the past.

Winning coach David Booth mused on the tie: "I thought we worked hard throughout the team today. They started well, passed the ball well for 15 minutes but then we got into the game and controlled it for the rest of the match. Our defending was good, the midfield did well, in fact the whole team did well today. I started with Makara at full-back in Dara's absence. He's usually a striker but I've seen him in training, how hard he works and runs and I knew he could play there, and he did. We must remember that we had only 2 players playing - Sokumpheak and Tiny - who were regulars last season. We have a lot of boys who are not experienced at this level. So we've not done too bad with this team so far." When asked about the situation with Khim Borey, still suspended by the federation and kicking his heels in the stands this afternoon, Booth said: "I don't have any faith in the federation resolving this issue. It's been going on for far too long already. I don't know what the Army are trying to prove by stopping him from playing football. It's a real shame what the Army are doing to the boy."

PPCFC line-up: Chamrouen, Makara (Sophanal 82), Seyha, Tiny, Sovan, Sovanna, Sothy, Suhana, Sok Pheng, Hong Pheng (Sochivorn 78), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Ary, Oudom, Da, Vanthan, Lika, Kimhor, Srin. Bookings: Seyha, Makara, Sothy. Referee: Khuon Virak.
Kouch Sokumpheak shakes hands with Keo Sokngorn of Boeung Ket
A final team huddle before the kick-off
The Crown bench before the start
Kouch Sokumpheak leads out the Crown team this afternoon
Sokumpheak stretches in the tunnel before the start
Kouch Sokumpheak, stretches before the game
Leng Makara, facing camera, gets ready for his full Crown debut, at full-back