Monday, April 30, 2012


Coach David Booth addresses his players. Pic Masayori Ishikawa.
Phnom Penh Crown head coach David Booth was not a happy man after watching his team lose 3-1 to Kirivong on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. The dressing room was in stunned silence as the players trooped back in after the final whistle. These are the coach's immediate after-match comments: "We were very poor in the 1st half. We missed chances, I don't know how many times we hit the post and bar. I never thought we were going to score and I was surprised when it actually went in. It's hard to explain, it's just not what we have been doing, what we do, the way we train, the way we work. Why was that performance like that? I actually have no idea.
We improved a little bit in the 2nd half, but not a lot. Again, look at the chances we had in the 2nd half, maybe six or seven, not one went in, they either just missed the post or went straight at the goalie. While they had three chances and scored three goals. Out of more than ten chances, we scored one. Not good enough. There's no excuse for the way we played, we played badly today.
Tomorrow we'll get them back together and sort out why we played like this.We need to analyse, sit back and look at what happened, and make sure it doesn't happen again. It certainly doesn't augur well for the President's Cup. We needed a good performance to take into that., We didn't get it. We know that any performance like that next week and we'll be dead and buried. When you look at our team, they are all national players, ex-national players and foreign players - lots of experience - but it simply didn't work for us today.
With the experience we have in the team, they've got to see the danger before it happens. We told them all the correct things before the game but they just stood and watched them score the first goal. There is no excuse."

Meeting deadlines

A sneak look at the PPCFC team photo in the new Year Book

Be prepared for lots of footy stuff this week as there's a rather large competition taking place in Phnom Penh and I'll be taking a few days off work as I'm heavily involved as the press officer for Phnom Penh Crown. We have a television commercial coming out any minute now, that will be blasted all over the Cambodian television channels to raise awareness amongst the football-loving public, especially as it has a prize draw and entertainment in the form of hip-hop bands at the games, etc. A sure way to attract the attention of Khmer youths. Give them a few free phone calls as well and they'll be your friend for life. No Preap Sovath this time around though.  I've just finished writing a new 2012 Year Book for Phnom Penh Crown and that will be printed and distributed by the end of this week as well. This edition will be in English but we'expect to have a Khmer translation sometime soon. There will be a lot more going on too, with a major press conference this Friday when everyone and their dog from the media will be present. The opposition teams will be arriving this week ahead of the first matches on Saturday. The media covered our first press conference on Saturday morning, to officially announce the tournament and the picture below is from

Phnom Penh Crown finally have someone to hold the video camera during games and then edit the highlights for our footy matches. Amandeep Singh is from India and he got in touch to offer his services a couple of weeks ago. He's in Cambodia as the country manager of an NGO and obviously loves football. He spent seven hours editing the first highlights video of our match against BBU, so he must love football. He made a good fist of the match against BBU and we are now planning on having video highlights on the club's official website from now on. Well, for as long as Aman has the time to video and then edit his handiwork. We've been looking for a videographer for the past year. They are like gold-dust. You can watch the BBU highlights on the website at When we get hold of the television commercial, we'll post that as well.
We look like a line-up of convicts rather than a footy club's backroom team

Weekend round-up

NagaCorp ran out easy 8-1 winners over Chhlam Samuth

Not enough hours in the day to post everything I should be posting. Take the football results from this weekend for example. Usually I try and get them online as quickly after the matches as I can. No such luck this weekend. It's now Monday afternoon and I still haven't found a spare minute to post them. Ah, here's that spare minute afterall. So who played who on Saturday? The first Metfone C-League match saw BBU meet the Army, with no foreign players on either side. I was very bored watching the game, the only highlight of which was a Pich Sina goal with five minutes to go that gave BBU a 1-nil success. In the 2nd game, NagaCorp dismantled Chhlam Samuth into tiny pieces and ran out very easy 8-1 victors. Choun Chum, he of the quick feet and name-change before the season started, netted a personal tally of 4 goals to take him to the top of the scorer's chart with 11 for the season. He could've scored more truth be known, but I'm sure he's happy with four, including a penalty, for which he was fouled. Om Thavrak rattled in the first after 3 minutes and there was no looking back after that. Kenneth Nwafor, mostly found sitting in front of his back-four, strode forward to head a rare goal, Sun Sovannrithy also scored, as did Teab Vathanak. Chhlam Samuth changed their keeper just after half-time but it made no difference as Chum put a hat-trick of goals past him in sixteen minutes. Ros Samoeun netted a late consolation effort. Naga went to the top of the table on goal difference above National Police. Phnom Penh Crown are in 3rd spot.

Sunday saw the shock of the weekend when Kirivong dealt Phnom Penh Crown a body blow, winning 3-1 despite Crown having the lion's share of possession, goal chances (more than 20 that I counted) and a corner-kick count of 11-2 in their favour. They did everything but score (until the last kick), and of course, they didn't keep a clean-sheet at the other end either. Kirivong must've thought Christmas had come early. In the second game, Boeung Ket will be cursing themselves and just about everyone else at not holding onto a half-time lead. Friday Nwakuna gave them a 2-goal headstart after 35 minutes, with two strikes within two minutes of each other. The first was a header, the second a glorious interchange of passes with Keo Sokngorn. Preah Khan twice hit the bar in the 1st half so were always in the game and so it proved later on. Nwakuna also hit the woodwork and missed a couple of other very presentable chances in the 2nd half. Khuon Laboravy poked in to reduce the deficit on 71 minutes and Boeung Ket keeper Peng Bunchhay made a few neat saves to keep his team ahead until a massive blunder by the custodian with just three minutes to go. Prak Mony Udom hit a 25-yarder more in hope than in anger and the grubber deceived Bunchhay who failed to get down to it, and 2-2 was the final result. Honours even and a good game to boot.
BBU will be cock-a-hoop with their 1-0 win over the Army after a bad start

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scratching their heads

PPCFC v Kirivong. Back Row LtoR: Tiny, Dara, Frimpong, Sovan, Tarley, Ary. Front: Njoku, Rady, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Borey

How the heck did Phnom Penh Crown lose to Kirivong? On the number of chances alone, we should've put the game beyond doubt by half-time. We didn't, we found it impossible to hit the back of the bleedin' net and paid a very high price for three defensive lapses. We are not exactly making a good fist of defending our championship crown this season. This 3-1 reversal to Kirivong, who were thumped 4-0 by Chhlam Samuth in their last outing, was a shock, no two ways about it, and was precisely the exact opposite of the result we were seeking, going into next week's AFC President's Cup. It can work two way, it will act as a kick of the backside for all concerned, or it will come back to haunt us in a few ways. Anyway, back to this afternoon's 2.30pm kick-off.

A one-match suspension for central defender Odion Obadin required a few changes to the Phnom Penh Crown starting line-up against lowly Kirivong, with Chan Dara coming in at full-back and Melvin Tarley recalled alongside Kingsley Njoku in attack. Crown were in confident mode having won their previous three Metfone C-League matches but found themselves a goal down after just three minutes. A hopeful punt forward caught the Crown defence flat-footed and Mohamed Zaky outpaced Tieng Tiny before slipping his shot neatly past Yok Ary. Ten minutes later it required quick reactions from Ary to deny Ishola Abiding after he broke away rather too easily from Sok Sovan's shackles. Kingsley Njoku and Kouch Sokumpheak attempted to draw level soon after, both firing narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty box with powerful drives as Crown began to find their feet.

Emmanuel Frimpong is fast earning a reputation for his free-kicks and on 26 minutes his 22-yarder was too hot to handle for Kirivong keeper Kem Makara though the rebound evaded three onrushing Crown attackers and bounced to safety. Sos Suhana was next to try his luck after he jinked his way to the bye-line but his shot was blocked by Makara at the near post. A Khim Borey corner somehow managed to evade everyone in the six-yard box and as the first half drew to a close, Crown squandered two more guilt-edge opportunities. A minute before the break, Njoku weaved past two defenders on the byeline and his pull-back to Melvin Tarley had goal written all over it, but the Liberian striker took too long to pull the trigger and the chance was taken off his toe. With the referee just about to blow for half-time, Sokumpheak laid the ball into the path of Tarley and this time his thunderous shot cannoned off the frame of the goal and away from danger. Kirivong were fortunate to remain ahead at the break.

Kirivong's half-time substitute Egyptian Rada Badry announced his arrival by lashing a shot against the upright after six minutes but for much of the second half it was one-way traffic as Crown went in search of an equalizer. Njoku's lay-off header allowed Sokumpheak room for a half volley which Kem Makara was equal to with a smart one-handed save to his right. Tiny and Suhana were wasteful with off-target headers before Tarley looked to have cashed in on a fumble by Makara, but blasted the loose ball clear of the cross-bar. Borey and Sokumpheak combined, only for the Crown skipper to volley his opportunity into row Z. On the hour, Njoku robbed Ouk Thon and raced goalwards but his attempted chip over the onrushing Makara missed the goalframe by a foot. A deft touch was definitely missing today. The catalogue of near misses continued when Njoku fed Suhana as he broke into the area, only to see his shot deflected onto the post by Makara's foot. Njoku tried an ambitious overhead kick and Borey screwed a Suhana pass over the top from fifteen yards out. On 78 minutes, Crown struck the woodwork again when Ouk Sothy's free header rebounded off the cross-bar. It just wasn't Crown's day as Sokumpheak's power-header went straight into the hands of Kem Makara and his long dropkick found Em Phanna in acres of space in the Crown half with nine minutes to go. Yok Ary thought better of rushing out of his area and was caught back-pedaling by Phanna who spotted him off his line and lobbed the ball into the net. It was a kick in the guts for Crown who'd been camped in the Kirivong half for the previous forty minutes.

As the final minutes ticked by, Sokumpheak had a shot blocked, Sothy screwed a good chance wide and Njoku's diving header missed the far post by inches. To add insult to injury in the fourth minute of time added on, Sok Sovan dallied on the ball instead of clearing his lines, Phanna got a touch and instantly whipped his low shot past Ary. With the last kick, actually header, of the game Ouk Sothy netted a consolation for Crown in the 96th minute, benefitting from Njoku's touch to Frimpong's free-kick. But it was too little too late as Crown finished the match scratching their heads over their numerous missed opportunities and defensive lapses that cost them so dearly.
PPCFC line-up: Ary, Rady, Dara (Sothy 76), Tiny, Sovan, Frimpong, Suhana, Borey (H Pheng 76), Njoku, Tarley (S Pheng 68), Sokumpheak.Subs not used: Chamrouen, Vanthan, Lika, Sophanal, Seyha, Sovanna, Chaya, Makara. Bookings: Rady, S Pheng, Tiny.
Kouch Sokumpheak smiles in the players tunnel

Under the new electronic scoreboard, the Crown team get final instructions

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Here it comes

Standing for the national anthem. LtoR: Kouch Sokumpheak, David Booth, Khiev Sameth, Rithy Samnang

Next Saturday will see the start of this season's AFC President's Cup competition, with the Group Stage qualifying matches in Group B kicking-off in Phnom Penh. Last year Phnom Penh Crown progressed to the final stages after successfully negotiating the Group Stage that was played at the Olympic Stadium for the very first time. They will be hoping that lightening strikes twice. This morning's press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel was the formal announcement of the programme of six matches on 5, 7 and 9 May by the club president Rithy Samnang, accompanied by Khiev Sameth of the FFC, Crown's head coach David Booth and club captain Kouch Sokumpheak. The three visiting teams, from Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, will arrive later in the week and another press conference with representatives from all four teams will be held on Friday, immediately after the Team Managers meeting. This morning's session was introduced by Rithy Samnang with Khiev Sameth also commenting, whilst David Booth and Kouch Sokumpheak answered questions from the attending journalists. Eight televisions stations were present as well as online and written media. All were given a written press release with the schedule of matches, etc.
The key elements of David Booth's replies to questions were: "We know how to prepare, we've done it before. We don't need to take the players away from their families as we train every day, it's important for the players to stay in their regular environment, and to keep them comfortable and to maintain team spirit...We've got to forget last year, that's finished, we now have a new challenge and our players have to be up for it. We did very well last year to get to the final, and now we have a big challenge this year to beat that. We've had a big turnaround in players but over the past month it is starting to gel. We can look forward to the competition with confidence, as the players are showing a lot more ability. It's taken 3-4 months and it's now coming together at just the right time. It doesn't happen overnight, it takes time to develop but they are all striving to get better."
Kouch Sokumpheak making notes during the press conference

Kouch Sokumpheak and David Booth at the top table

Rithy Samnang, Kouch Sokumpheak and Khiev Sameth look at the new television commercial that has been produced for this year

Make believe

It's all for the TV cameras but the team will hope it's for real later this year
The television commercial that will be aired ahead of the upcoming AFC President's Cup matches that begin on 5 May, should be available very soon, both on the local Khmer television stations and also on YouTube. It will show members of the Phnom Penh Crown team, kicking-off with skipper Kouch Sokumpheak as well as a posed photo of the team celebrating what they hope will be success in the competition. The club held a press conference this morning to announce the details of the group stage to be held in Phnom Penh beginning next Saturday. More in another post.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crown down students

Phnom Penh Crown coach David Booth gave a game to a few of his squad this week who haven't been playing regularly in recent weeks and needed some match practice. So on Tuesday at Crown's RSN Stadium, a PPCFC team took on the students from Asia Euro University and ran out comfortable 5-1 winners. The young visitors took a fifth minute lead with Leng Makara levelling on 25 minutes and Melvin Tarley scoring to put Crown ahead on the stroke of half-time. After the break, Chim Rathanak scored twice in the 53rd minute and on the hour mark before Kingsley Njoku wrapped it up with the fifth two minutes from the end.

PPCFC line-up: Chamrouen, Dara (Srin 45), Seyha, Than (Da 45), Lika, Sovanna (Sophanal 25), Asonibe, Sothy (Obadin 65), Tarley (Njoku 65), Makara, S Pheng (Rathanak 45min).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

C-League update

After Phnom Penh Crown grabbed top spot in the Metfone C-League on Saturday, it was up to National Police and Naga to keep the heat on and they duly obliged. On Sunday, the C-League's top scorer Nelson Oladiji netted twice and Srey Udom grabbed a goal for National Police before Preah Khan Reach got their act together after the hour. Khuon Laboravy and Prak Mony Udom got on the scoresheet for Preah Khan but it was too little too late, with Police recording a 3-2 success. NagaCorp refused to allow newboys Western Uni to get any joy, giving them a 4-1 lesson with goals from Choun Chum, Chhim Sambo and two from Sun Sovanrithy. New face Philip Ali scored for the students. In the midweek game, National Police stretched their lead at the top, beating the Uni boys from Western 2-0 with early goals from Oladiji - his 10th of the campaign - and Nov Soseila. Police lead with 16 points, Naga have 13pts and Crown are in 3rd with 12 points.
Whoops, I forgot to mention the first match on Saturday which saw the Rubbermen from Boeung Ket and the Army share the spoils at 1-1. Chhin Chhoeun gave Army an early lead that Friday Nwakuna cancelled out five minutes later. That's how it stayed aside from Boeung Ket getting two players red-carded in the dying minutes, with Phoeun Saorum and Touch Sokheng taking early baths.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We can play better

David Booth speaks after the game
I caught up with Phnom Penh Crown head coach David Booth immediately after the final whistle of his team's 3-0 success against BBU at the Olympic Stadium this afternoon, as the floodlights around us were switched off, leaving us in complete darkness. That didn't deter us as he gave me his views on today's match.
"1-0 at half-time was probably fair. The field is awful, not conditions for good football, good passing or good control and with a bumpy pitch and the wind as well, it was difficult. We deserved to be  in front, we had one or two chances, we hit the post, we had a few chances to go further in front, but it gave us something to fight for in the 2nd half. I felt we should've still pressed them a bit more, on their midfield players. We tended to stand off them - it seems to be a trait here in Cambodia that midfield players are allowed space to play, for both teams. Back home it's the most congested and most intense part of the field, but doesn't seem to be like that here.
In the 2nd half, they had an extra man in midfield, so we changed it to 4-4-2 to nullify them. To be fair our goalkeeper did quite well today, I've criticised him in the past but he did well today. They didn't really have a chance in the 2nd half. We changed it to four instead of three in the middle and tried to get the ball up front quicker, get it behind them and it worked. Both Kingsley and Sokumpheak got their goals. We changed to play to the conditions. We felt it was going to rain, so we wanted to get the ball alongside and behind them. We've got speed and strength and I thought it worked out well.
We can play better than that. We have to look at the players we've got. They are not the same players that we had last year, it takes time to blood them in. We've got eight positional changes from last year. We've got to be a little patient but I think it will come eventually."

Njoku is back

PPCFC v BBU. Back Row LtoR: Obadin, Njoku, Rady, Frimpong, H Pheng, Ary. Front: Tiny, Sovan, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Borey
Not much was going his way on his return to first-team action for Kingsley Njoku until he took a pass from Khim Borey in his stride on the left wing with 14 minutes remaining. Picking up speed he left two BBU defenders in his exhaust fumes before slotting a neat finish under the body of the BBU keeper Sos Proshim to announce he is back to the rest of the Metfone C-League audience. It was Phnom Penh Crown's second goal and essentially put the result beyond doubt. Kouch Sokumpheak's fine finish just over a minute later did just that as Crown ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. The opening goal honours went to midfield playmaker Emmanuel Frimpong, who struck a 30-yard screamer for his 5th goal of the season, just after the half-hour. His eye for goal is certainly catching everyone's attention.With Chan Chaya out with sickness, Hong Pheng started in his place with Kingsly Njoku returning to the starting line-up following his eight-match AFC ban, at the expense of Melvin Tarley. Crown began the game with purpose with Frimpong getting in a 25-yard range-finding shot which Proshim touched over the cross-bar in the third minute. Borey's neat touch gave Sokumpheak a sniff of goal on twelve minutes but Proshim was off his line quickly to deny the Crown skipper's attempted chip. Sos Suhana, who played for Cambodia's U-22s in midweek, fired over and had a mis-hit shot blocked, as well as putting in Sokumpheak, who turned and hit a low drive which Proshim again kept out at his near post on 22 minutes. Frimpong struck his opening goal, which he arrowed into the corner giving Proshim no chance from all of thirty yards out, when Borey touched a free-kick to him and his trusty left foot did the rest. That was on 33 minutes and it was what Crown fully deserved. Suhana should've done better with a header from a Borey cross but his powder-puff nod down gave Proshim the opportunity to push it aside, whilst a minute into added on time, Hong Pheng raced clear of the last defender and looked to have chipped his shot neatly past Proshim, only for the ball to rebound to safety off the foot of the post.

The 2nd half began in increasing gloom as the cloud and rain arrived and the floodlights were switched on. A quick break saw Njoku and Sok Pheng set up Borey at the far post but his clip past Proshim could only find the side netting. Sokumpheak whacked a 20-yarder into the keeper's midriff and then Proshim was out quickly to snuff out the danger when Njoku looked dangerous. At the other end, BBU were using the strong wind to their advantage and Yok Ary had to be quick to clear his lines when BBU broke the offside trap, and then tipped a 20-yard free kick from Chhun Sothearath over the top. Sok Pheng, on for Hong Pheng, got it wrong in his own area and his pass allowed Heng Sokly a shot which he blazed over. A minute later he was booked for shirt-pulling. On 76 minutes, Kingsley Njoku calmed any Crown nerves with a fine solo goal, showing both speed, strength and a calm eye for goal, after running the BBU defence ragged. A minute later, Frimpong sent Sokumpheak clear, he rounded Proshim and kept his feet to fire his side into a three-goal lead. In the final dregs of the game, Sok Pheng whipped in a 20-yard drive which Proshim did well to fingertip wide and Sokumpheak blasted over after after leaving his marker for dead. It was a 3-0 win that Crown fully deserved and they now meet Kirivong next Sunday, in their final game before their AFC President's Cup adventures in early May. 

PPCFC line-up v BBU: Ary, Sovan, Rady, Tiny, Obadin (Dara 83), Frimpong, Borey (Sothy 76), Suhana, H Pheng (S Pheng 57), Njoku, Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Vanthan, Seyha, Lika, Sophanal, Rathanak, Makara, Sovanna. Bookings: Obadin, S Pheng, Njoku.
David Booth speaks to his players before the kick-off
Coach David Booth makes his point whilst Kingsley Njoku dreams of scoring on his return
Inside the huddle before today's game begins

Thursday, April 19, 2012

President's Cup kick-offs

News in from the AFC Presidents Cup Group Stage (Qualifying Round) to be held in Phnom Penh from 5-9 May. The matches, dates, kick-off times and locations have been announced on the AFC website and they make interesting reading. As the hosts, Phnom Penh Crown kick-off the competition when they take on the lowest-ranked team in Group B, Yeedzin from Bhutan on Saturday 5 May at 1.30pm at the Olympic Stadium. That will be a tough ask for both teams, kicking-off around the middle of the day. A few prayers for cloud cover that day would not go amiss. Crown's second match will be against the Nepal Police team two days later, on Monday 7 May, at the more respectable time of 4.30pm, again at Olympic Stadium. The final, and toughest match on paper, for Crown will be the meeting against two-time cup winners Dordoi from Kyrgyzstan, at Olympic at 4pm on Wednesday 9 May. At the same time, over at the Army Stadium, the other final match will be played at the same time, between Nepal and Yeedzin, to ensure fair play.

Group B matches in Phnom Penh:
Sat 5 May: PPCFC v Yeedzin - 1.30pm @ Olympic
Sat 5 May: Dordoi v Nepal - 4.30pm @ Olympic
Mon 7 May: Yeedzin v Dordoi - 1.30pm @ Olympic
Mon 7 May: Nepal v PPCFC - 4.30pm @ Olympic
Wed 9 May: PPCFC v Dordoi - 4pm @ Olympic
Wed 9 May: Nepal v Yeedzin - 4pm @ Army Stadium

A 2nd drop out

More news from the Group Stages of the AFC President's Cup, and teams are dropping out like exhausted marathon runners, without a ball being kicked in anger. The 2nd team to quit are Sri Lankan Champions Ratnam Sports Club, who've dipped out of Group C, which will be played in Tajikistan from 5-9 May, leaving just three teams to battle it out. The Bangladesh champions, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi had already refused to send their team to Pakistan in Group A on 8-12 May, citing security concerns as their reason for dropping out. The only group with its four teams still intact, is the one which will be played in Phnom Penh on 5, 7 and 9 May. That's Group B. More on the Group B matches in another post.

The AFC President's Cup groups are:
Group A (held in Pakistan): KRL (PAK), Taiwan Power (TPE), Erchim (MON).
Group B (held in Cambodia): Phnom Penh Crown (CAM), Dordoi (KGZ), Nepal Police (NEP), Yeezdin (BHU).
Group C (held in Tajikistan): FC Istiklol (TJK), Balkan (TKM), Al Amma’ri Youth (PLE).
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the final round, which will be played 24-30 September at a location to be announced, depending on who the six qualifiers are.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crown on camera

The Crown players and coaching staff pictured this morning.
The players of Phnom Penh Crown gathered at the Olympic Stadium at 6.30am this morning for firstly a photoshoot and for some of them, like Kouch Sokumpheak and Yok Ary, to be involved in filming the latest version of the Crown television advert that will be used to promote the upcoming AFC President's Cup. As usually happens on these occasions, not all of the players were available with three of them missing due to sickness, namely Chan Chaya, Ly Kimhor and goalkeeper Am Oudom. However, the shoot took place and most of the team were heading home by 8am except those needed for the television close-ups.
Players only for this group photo
The less glamorous end of the photoshoot
Crown's foreign contingent pose. LtoR: Odion Obadin, Henry Asonibe, Kingsley Njoku, Emmanuel Frimpong, Melvin Tarley
Yok Ary gets the star treatment from the make-up department before the television shoot

Monday, April 16, 2012

A look at Yeedzin

Yeedzin pictured at last year's AFC President's Cup
On 5 May, Phnom Penh Crown will begin the first of their three AFC President's Cup Group Stage Qualifying Round matches against the lowest ranked of the teams in Group B, namely Yeedzin of the tiny mountainous kingdom of Bhutan. Surrounded by India and China, it's national sport is archery but football is definitely taking a firm foothold amongst the 700,000 population, though the national team remains near the base of the FIFA rankings at 201. The Thimphu-based club have won the national league title on two occasions and competed in last season's AFC President's Cup, though they failed to progress past the qualifying stage in Myanmar. They were totally outclassed conceding 21 goals without any reply, losing 6-0 to home team Yadanarbon, 8-0 to FC Istiklol of Tajikistan and 7-0 to Palestine's Jabal Al Mukaber. However, it was a valuable learning experience for the club, who will come to Phnom Penh hoping to put up a much sterner fight this time around. This isn't the first time that the two clubs have met. In June 2009, a crowd of 300 at the Spartak Stadium in Kyrgyzstan saw Crown win 3-1 with two goals from Jean Roger Lappe-Lappe and another from Chan Rithy. Crown survivors from that game are Tieng Tiny, Chan Chaya and Chim Rathanak. Both sides failed to qualify from the group stage.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aspire to be the best

Keep your eyes open for a plan this year to find the very best young footballers in the country. Aspire Football Dreams is a worldwide search for the stars of tomorrow. Since 2007, when the project was launched, over 1 million young footballers from Asia, Latin America and Africa have been tested to see if they have what it takes to become a top player of the future. With support from Nike and Unicef, and with the involvement of coaches from Barcelona, the top players from each region travel to Doha in Qatar and are hosted at Aspire Academy, where they receive top-level training during their sports scholarship. For the first time, Aspire will this year bring their search to Cambodia and will have five centers of excellence across the country as they aim to identify the best footballing talent at U-14 level. The best prospects from the five centers will go into a final selection pool and only the very best will be chosen to move onto the final selection stage, to be held in a regional center in Vietnam. This is a never-before opportunity for the cream of Cambodian youth football to rise to the top. It promises to be a memorable year for some.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crown on Facebook

As well as the brand new Phnom Penh Crown website, which we launched a couple of days ago, the Crown Facebook page now has a following of over 2,000 and generates a lot of online traffic interested in the comings and goings at everyone's favourite Cambodian football club. Obviously I would say that being Crown's press officer, but there's a definite shift, trend, call it what you will, amongst the internet-savvy Khmer online population to follow their favourite footy team whether it's Crown, Boeung Ket or Western Uni. Long may it continue.

One match played today in the Metfone C-League and Chhlam Samuth gave Kirivong a bit of a shock, beating them 4-0 at the Olympic Stadium with two goals apiece from Sunday Ayodele and on-loan (from Boeung Ket) George Bisan. As we now enter a 10-day break for Khmer New Year, the Police and Naga top the table on ten points each.

Foreign investments

Foreign sponsorship in Cambodian football continues unabated. In July 2009, the Cambodian football federation (FFC) joined forces with Vietnamese mobile telephone supplier Metfone in a sponsorship deal worth $1.5million over three years - that deal ends this year. For their money, Metfone got their name on the Cambodian Premier League as the exclusive sponsor as well as partnerships for the other competitions run by the federation. Before that, the FFC was bankrolled by a South Korean technology company. We wait to hear who will be the league's sponsors for next season. In the meantime, the FFC have announced a new sponsor, this time for the Cambodian national team, namely Thailand's largest sports equipment company called FBT (Football Thai Factory Sporting Goods), who will provide sponsorship to the tune of $65,000 a year for the next 4 years. Presumably they'll also chuck in a few new playing strips and tracksuits as part of the package. Isn't it sad that the Cambodian national team is sponsored by a private Thai company. That would suggest Cambodian companies have yet to be convinced that football is a worthwhile vehicle for their sponsorship dollars, or that the FFC have chosen to look outside the country's boundaries for their cash. Continuing the theme of sponsorship from outside the country, Preah Khan Reach have just announced a $100,000, one-year deal with a Vietnamese bank. The Saigon-Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) have decided to throw their weight behind the military police-backed club with money that will be used, according to the club's secretary, to buy equipment, food and to double the wages of the coach and his team.
PKR officials with their new sponsors including PKR's coach in blue

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

President's Cup update

News just in that the twelve teams in the AFC President's Cup Group Stage (Qualifying Round) have been reduced by one without a ball being kicked. The Bangladesh champions, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi have refused to send their team to Pakistan in Group A, citing security concerns as their reason for dropping out. That means that hosts Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) from Lahore will now host a three-team group alongwith the reigning champions Taiwan Power Company from Chinese Taipei and Erchim, who will represent Mongolia, given a President’s Cup slot from this year onwards filling the void created after Myanmar clubs were granted a place in the AFC Cup.

The other AFC President's Cup groups are:
Group B (held in Cambodia): Phnom Penh Crown (CAM), Dordoi (KGZ), Nepal Police (NEP), Yeezdin (BHU).
Group C (held in Tajikistan): FC Istiklol (TJK), Balkan (TKM), Al Amma’ri Youth (PLE), Ratnam Sports (SRI).
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the final round, which will be played in late September at a location to be announced, depending on who the six qualifiers are.

Sorry state of affairs

The less-than state of the art dressing rooms at Olympic Stadium
Looking at the sorry state of the dressing rooms at the Olympic Stadium, I was reminded of an article I read about the Arsenal dressing room, which was designed with the help of their manager Arsene Wenger. It said...The room is light and airy, the players sit next to each in a long line so that he can address them as a team, without ever having to turn his back on any of his players. The players shirts are hung up on pegs in an individual compartment, which has been finished in a light, brown pine wood and a businesslike, yet relaxed, air abounds. The players get prepared in a neutral environment, with the walls painted in white, a harmless colour, and the seats are heated to help keep their muscles warm during the 15 minute interval. Underneath their seat, there is space for their boots, there is a separate room for the physio to work on injured players and there is a table packed with fruit, water and high energy drinks.
Fat chance of any of that at the Olympic Stadium. You're lucky if the lights and ceiling fans work, as often they don't. For the first league game of the season, the Crown players had to change in semi-darkness and were sweating buckets, yet their opponents had no such problem. Blue plastic chairs make do rather than the heated seating at Arsenal, there are no hot water showers and the toilets often don't flush. There's a tatty table in the corner for the physio to work his magic on player's muscles before the game starts. Faces often appear at the windows at the back of the room and holes in the wall mean anyone can listen to the team talk and tactics. All in all it's a sorry state of affairs that the best, and only stadium in the country, has such stone-age changing facilities.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Booth point of view

David Booth is hands-on with his players at half-time
Phnom Penh Crown head coach David Booth gave his view of his side's 4-1 win over Chhlam Samuth immediately after the final whistle on Sunday:
"We've had 6 games in 19 days and we've almost kept the same team, same eleven throughout and I honestly think tiredness came into it today. When you ask them to train every day and play as many games, they've not had a day off in more than three weeks, so some tiredness was excusable today. We scored 4, we could've scored 7 or 8 with a little bit more sharpness. But it's hard to get them to press, to push, to do everything right when leading 3-0. We saw last week with the Police what can happen, so we said at half-time that we had to be tight. The ref made it too comfortable for us early on in the game with the red card. Immediately the players know they're going to get more of the ball. Probably a game best forgotten for talking it up. We deserved it, we worked very hard. We made a lot of mistakes in the games up til now, and we've got a chance to rectify that and get down to some business, with a break of 10 days or so."

"I can't complain really. I felt they were tired so I introduced some pace with the substitutions. The last thing you want is a lot of pace when you are tired and Hong Pheng and Makara have lots of pace. Sok Pheng can put himself about a bit and scored a terrific goal. I thought Emmanuel played well today, his passing was lovely, and I also thought Suhana did well too, he kept the ball for us and I'm pleased he scored. The pitch was not good, it's bouncy but I don't want to blame the pitch. They don't maintain the field very well. All they needed was a little water and a roller, at least to make it flat for the weekend."
Phnom Penh Crown return to C-League action against BBU on Saturday 21 April.
The Crown team get their half-time talk from head coach David Booth
Referee Yien Kivatanak waits for the penny to drop, with the two captains looking on
The Crown starting line-up before the match begins
The match officials check on players socks before the game!
Crown in the dressing room before the game v Chhlam Samuth

New PPCFC website launch

The latest incarnation of the official website of Phnom Penh Crown FC has just been launched. It's shiny and new though not yet complete. It still has a few features to be added but we didn't want to keep it under wraps any longer. An in-depth player portrait will be the next addition. We'd love to add a video section but no-one has replied to our advert for a videographer to come and join our small team. A big thank you to Bunsak who has been chipping away at the new website for the last few months - we finally got there thanks to his perseverance.
Have a look for yourself @

Police jump Naga

National Police go back to the top, on goal difference
Back on top of the Metfone C-League table due to a better goal difference, the National Police team had to play the final twenty minutes of their Sunday clash with the military men from the Army without their rock-solid skipper and centre-half Say Piseth. Dismissed by referee Chuob Visal for a 2nd bookable offence, Piseth's absence nevertheless spurred his team into a late revival after a pretty mundane encounter. The league's top scorer Nelson Oladiji went close with a couple of efforts for Police but to no avail as the game petered out into a goal-less draw. Other than that, there wasn't much to say about the game. Police jumped back over NagaCorp to head the premier division placings. There's one more game, this Wednesday when Chhlam Samuth play Kirivong, before the C-League takes a break for the Khmer New Year festivities and resumes again on Saturday 21 April. Scheduled for that day are Boeung Ket v Army and Phnom Penh Crown against BBU.
The Army starting line-up for their goal-less draw with the Police

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Frimpong sparks Crown

Crown coach David Booth providing last minute tactical reminders to his team
Emmanuel Frimpong is enjoying life in the middle of Phnom Penh Crown's midfield and opened the scoring with his 4th goal of the season in this afternoon's regulation 4-1 win over Chhlam Samuth. "I love scoring, I've always scored goals whichever team I'm with, most of them with my left foot but occasionally with my right. I'm very settled here and both myself and the team are improving with each game we play. We were a little complacent today after they went down to 10 men but we did enough to secure the win, so I'm happy," said the play-making midfield dynamo after today's game. Chhlam Samuth are finding life tough in the Metfone C-League again this season, as they did last term when they escaped relegation by 1 point. Currently bottom and without any points, they had a veritable mountain to climb after losing Soth Sotheavy to a fifth minute straight red card. His tackle from behind on Melvin Tarley, starting his first game for Crown, was bad enough for referee Yien Kivatanak to reach for his red card without a second's thought. It looked a bit harsh. Khim Borey had already wasted a first minute opportunity for Crown, firing wide when well-placed. George Bisan was making his debut for Chhlam Samuth and will kick himself for not scoring on eight minutes when he found himself in acres of room but sent his drive high and wide. Frimpong sent a sighter from 35 yards a foot over the cross-bar a couple of minutes later but made no mistake with his next strike after 13 minutes. Comfortable on the ball, he sidestepped two defenders as he approached the edge of the area and then cut back onto his left foot before sending a bobbling low drive into the far corner for the game's opening goal. Less than a minute later, Kouch Sokumpheak fed Melvin Tarley on the left wing and his dangerous-looking cross was headed past his own goalkeeper by Kao Viso to add more misery to Chhlam Samuth's woes.

Yok Ary was back in goal for Crown and he was handily-placed to hold a low drive by Sunday Ayodele after he broke clear. But most of the possession was in Crown's favour and on 25 minutes Borey's powerful drive was pushed over by Chhlam Samuth's keeper Kong Chanparin. The Crown striker, slotting into a midfield role this afternoon, then sent a 25-yard shot skidding wide, as did his teammate Frimpong from the same distance. Ayodele pounced on a Sok Sovan error at the other end but was wayward with his final touch. On 36 minutes, Sos Suhana extended Crown's lead with his first goal in his new club colours. Showing great strength for such a slightly-built player, he fended off the challenge of two defenders, broke free into the box and finished coolly to make it 3-nil. Three minute later he repeated his burst into the penalty area but this time screwed his shot wide. In time added on at the end of the half, Tarley got on the end of a Frimpong cross but his powerful header was palmed aside by Chanparin and then Sokumpheak headed over the top as the whistle blew for half-time.

With the watching spectators expecting a second-half avalanche of goals, Crown continued to dominate but the goal-fest never materialized. Chan Chaya's cheeky 1st-time shot was saved at the near post, Borey managed to lob the ball over the keeper's head only for it to be cleared off the line and Tarley's best chance, set-up by Sokumpheak, brought out the best from Chanparin with a full-length diving save. Just after the hour, Tarley's pass to Suhana set him up perfectly, but he watched in horror as his sweetly-struck shot cannoned back off the cross-bar. Crown coach David Booth introduced three new strikers to freshen it up and one of them, Sok Pheng was poked clear only to screw his shot hopelessly wide. On 72 minutes, Chhlam Samuth stole a goal that never looked like coming. Their latest signing, midfielder George Bisan, toe-poked it past Tieng Tiny and then sidestepped Odion Obadin before slotting the ball under Yok Ary's body for a classy solo effort. Five minutes later and sub Sok Pheng showed he was no slouch either. Sokumpheak cleared a corner to Pheng, ten yards in his own half. He left the defender for dead and then put his head down and carried the ball another forty yards before unleashing a thunderbolt drive from the edge of the box that slammed into the top corner. Crown continued to press with Frimpong, itching to get another goal, flashing a 25-yarder inches wide, as did Sokumpheak, and then Leng Makara fluffed his chance to get on the scoresheet when set up by Pheng, only for the keeper to block his goal-bound shot. 4-1 in Crown's favour, the job done and three more points in the bag.
Crown line-up: Ary, Rady, Sovan, Tiny, Obadin, Frimpong, Suhana, Borey (Makara 66), Chaya (H Pheng 66), Tarley (S Pheng 68), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Dara, Vanthan, Lika, Seyha, Sothy, Sovanna, Rathanak.
Crown line-up: Back Row LtoR: Obadin, Frimpong, Tiny, Tarley, Rady, Ary. Front: Chaya, Suhana, Borey, Sokumpheak, Sovan
Kouch Sokumpheak (10) getting ready to lead his Crown team out
Chhlam Samuth, beaten 4-1 by PPCFC this afternoon

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Naga go top

Naga gained some revenge for their Hun Sen Cup Final defeat by beating PKR 2-1
Metfone C-League action today saw NagaCorp move to the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Preah Khan Reach in a game which they deserved to win. Their game-plan, to harry in midfield, to press all over the pitch and to strong-arm the opposition youngsters, worked a treat and without their main saviour, Khuon Laboravy, Preah Khan looked toothless. Goals either side of the half-time interval did the damage in Naga's favour. Kop Isa made Moul Daravorn pay for a poor touch in his own box and a failure to clear, two minutes before the break. It had been one-way traffic for most of the 1st half for Naga and they were unlucky when ref Thong Chankethya waved away appeals for a penalty when Chuon Chum went down in the box under the keeper's challenge. The referee should've either given the penalty or booked Chun for diving. He did neither. Five minutes after the restart and Chun was all alone on the six-yard box to make it 2-0. He stayed on his feet this time to finish with ease. Despite going 2-nil behind PKR brought on a centre-half as a substitute - a weird decision by the PKR coaching staff. With ten minutes to go, Prak Mony Udom, found the net for PKR but he squandered two other good chances as his team fell to their 1st defeat.
Preah Khan Reach, beaten 2-1 by Naga, missed their main man, Khuon Laboravy
Kirivong won 3-0 with another 2 foreigners making their debut today
The second match of the day was a fairly one-way affair in Kirivong's favour, with the Takeo-based team winning 3-0 against Western University. Kirivong have already ditched two of their Egyptian trio in favour of two new Nigerian signings and one of them, Ishola Abiding, scored a tap-in for their second goal on fifty minutes. They had led from the 5th minute when Heng Kimhong volleyed them in front. The remaining Egyptian, Rada Badry added the final goal, three minutes into time added on when Western keeper Ngoy Boranoch couldn't decide whether to head or kick the ball clear, did neither leaving Badry with a tap-in. Chi Samedy was the referee, new to the middle this season, and already earning a reputation as a referee that misses more than he gives, in terms of fouls. He let so many fouls go unpunished this afternoon that any other game would've turned into anarchy. Be warned.
Western Uni found the going tough today, going down 3-0 v Kirivong

Friday, April 6, 2012


Sos Suhana (17), training with Crown and the U-22 squad every week
I've mentioned it before, but why do the new Cambodia U-22 squad need to train three times a week, under lights, ahead of the AFC U-22 Asian Cup Qualifying rounds at the end of June. We have just started the domestic football league, all the players are fit, most of the 25-man squad that the U-22s have announced played in the recent U-21 debacle in Brunei, so they know each other very well. The players don't need to get together until the end of this month at the very earliest. Instead the coach Prak Somony and his assistants have already had them training three times a week, robbing their clubs of their services and adding to the players workload at a time when they are already busy. Take the two Phnom Penh Crown players in the squad, Sos Suhana and Sok Sovan. The league season has just begun and Crown have six matches in the space of 19 days. That's a game every three days. Nowhere near enough recovery time, especially if the player has a knock or injury. Add that to their their daily training for their own club and then add on top the sessions with the U-22 squad. The players will be exhausted before they even get to the U-22 tournament in June. In addition, the Crown players will be taking part in the AFC President's Cup qualifying games as well. No wonder both Sovan and Suhana have looked a pale shadow of their normal selves in the league games they've played so far. They are knackered. And let's be honest about it, the coach could have the U-22s in a team camp, living, eating, sleeping together for a year and they would still end up getting well-beaten by the other teams in their qualifying group, who are North Korea, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Laos. I repeat, it's complete overkill and all for a competition that they haven't got a cat-in-hell's chance of qualifying for. I feel for the players as they obviously want to play for their club and the national team but they could be burnt out before the tournament takes place. Selfishly, I also want the Crown players in good health, suitably rested and fit ready for our league programme and for the upcoming AFC President's Cup matches in early May.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rubbermen bounce to 2nd

Boeung Ket moved into 2nd place in the Metfone C-League table with a straightfoward 2-0 win over BBU in the 2nd game Wednesday. The Rubbermen from Kompong Cham led through Friday Nwakuna's headed goal on the half hour and made it 2-nil just before the half-time break when Sumaila Momoh whacked in a trademark thirty-yard rocket that gave Sos Proshim no chance. Prum Putsethy headed against the bar for BBU after the break but Boeung Ket were never in danger of losing their lead. The game certainly didn't live up to the excitement of the first match of the afternoon, when Phnom Penh Crown clawed back a three-goal deficit to beat league leaders National Police 4-3.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1 goal and they'll break

Crown must make sure they listen to their coach David Booth from the start of the game, as well as half-time
David Booth isn't a coach who gets carried away, even after today's fabulous second-half performance rescued the result from the jaws of defeat and turned it into a 4-3 victory in Phnom Penh Crown's favour. Here are his after-match thoughts.
"If you analyse the 1st half we had a lot of play around their box, but we just didn't get our last shot in, our last attempt on goal. But after something like fifteen minutes, we're chasing the game at two-nil down. I was already looking to make a substitution. Melvin is a big strong lad, so I put him in up front to try and get something back. The first two goals were two bad goals by our goalkeeper to be fair. I don't like criticizing but I have to say that the goalkeepers are not coming up to scratch and we've got to try and do something about it. After the two goals went in, the rest of the team started bickering as they saw the chance to win the game go out the window.
At half-time we collected everyone back together. As we said at half-time, if we can get 1 goal back, the game's not over and so it proved. At half-time, we tried to coax them, tried to make them believe that it's not over. I said 1 goal and they'll break - and they did. Looking at the 2nd half, for twenty minutes they never got out of their own half except once. We penned them in their own half and eventually they're going to make a mistake. The boy climbed all over Melvin and made a mistake and we scored from it. That got us back in the game. From there we kept the pressure on. We played nearly the whole 2nd half in their half; I'd say 40 minutes in their half and we got 4 goals to show for it.
It's an opportunity for the team to kick-on. For me, I didn't feel we deserved to lose to Naga or Boeung Ket but individual mistakes have cost us. Even today, but we managed to score 4 so we overcame our mistakes. We cannot forget them, we should not forget them. We simply cannot afford to keep making these mistakes."
Phnom Penh Crown take on bottom club Chhlam Samuth on Sunday (8 April) at 4.30pm at Olympic Stadium before a mini-break in the fixture list due to the Khmer New Year.