Friday, November 30, 2012

On the job mentoring

Fritz Schmid (left) with Austrian head coach Marcel Koller
Sam Schweingruber may be a FIFA coaching instructor for grassroots football, but he's not afraid to admit he's got a lot to learn as head coach of Phnom Penh Crown. Despite his involvement with Cambodian football at different levels over the past decade, the Crown job is his toughest yet and he is learning 'on the job' whilst applying the principles that have served him so well in the past six years with the SALT Academy and other roles. Giving him a helping hand is fellow Swiss national, and current assistant coach of the Austrian national team, Fritz Schmid, who will be spending a couple of weeks with Sam and the Crown club from 8 December, as part of a 1-to-1 mentoring program. Schmid is no stranger to Cambodia, having coached grassroots coaches here in his capacity as a FIFA instructor, as well as given his free time to help the SALT Academy. He has also worked in tandem with Sam at three coaching workshops in the past. Schmid, who is an expert at fitness, sports medicine and injury rehabilitation, has a coaching CV of considerable experience, having been a FIFA and UEFA instructor for more than twenty years as well a coach with top teams such as FC Basel (where they won 4 league championships and 4 cups in Switzerland), with Zurich Grasshoppers and a brief spell with Tottenham Hotspur. In addition, he's been a sports journalist, a skiing and swimming instructor and now he is number 2 to Marcel Koller with Austria fighting an uphill battle to make the World Cup finals. For Sam, learning from someone like Schmid will be invaluable as he approaches his first season as head coach of a senior team. In addition, the Crown squad will also benefit from the two-week close involvement with a senior European coach.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Success in Singapore

Hats off to the winning U-15 Girls team from Cambodia
It's not often that Cambodian football can report a success on foreign soil. So hats off to the squad of sixteen Cambodian girls, all in the U-15 age range, who went to Singapore this week, under the tutelage of Phnom Penh Crown's head coach Sam Schweingruber, and recorded a 3-0 success. Goals from Sopheavy (2) and skipper Kimhoeng. And if to add insult to injury against their highly-rated opponents, it was against the Singapore U-17 national team as well. Sam tells me it was fully deserved, Singapore were restricted to one chance in the whole game whilst the Cambodian girls, with all but one of the squad coming from Battambang, were totally dominant. Great stuff. The girls were training with and playing against the Phnom Penh Crown Academy boys before their Singapore trip and the link-up proved fruitful. Sam has a foot in both camps, having coached grassroots and girls football in Battambang for the past six years before joining Crown, and this show of force by the Cambodian girls team is a demonstration of all the hard work put in by the Battambang-based SALT Academy and Mighty Girls coaches and of course, the girls themselves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crown come home

PPCFC v PKR. Back LtoR: Seyha, Pheng, Ary, Thierry, Rady, Borey (capt). Front: Da, Makara, Dani, Sothy, Lika.
With a starting line-up affected by injury and suspensions, Phnom Penh Crown didn't manage to pull off the unlikely result they were hoping for, going down 3-0 to local rivals Preah Khan Reach in the final Pool B game of the Binh Phuoc TV Cup, played in Dong Xoai in Vietnam. With their second win in three games, Preah Khan qualify for the semi-finals later in the week. Assistant coach Bouy Dary reported that the Crown team played better than against Hanoi in their previous game but couldn't find the net against their more experienced opponents, with PKR breaking the deadlock on 15 minutes through Moul Daravorn and then scoring twice more just after the hour and on 72 minutes, courtesy of Sok Chanrasmey and Sam Pidor. Crown will now head back to Phnom Penh to continue their pre-season preparation with a match against the South Korean All Stars and the beginning of their Hun Sen Cup competition, where they are also due to meet Preah Khan.
Crown line-up v PKR: Ary, Da, Seyha (Hasan 75), Rady (Srin 85), Lika, Dani (Dara 79), Sothy (Suhana 46), Thierry, Pheng, Makara (Pisa 75), Borey. Subs not used: Seiha, Phearun, Kano, Morslim. Bookings: none. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Facing the Koreans

As part of their pre-season preparation, Phnom Penh Crown will meet a visiting team from the best footballing nation in Asia, if you trust the World Cup and AFC Champions League form-book. South Korean football has been at the top of the Asian football rankings for the last few years, so it will be an exciting comparison for Crown, who are scheduled to meet the Korean All Stars Union FC at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday 9 December, with the KO set for 4.30pm. The game will be shown live on TV11, so the kick-off time has still to be confirmed. So who are the All Stars Union team you might ask? They're a group of friends, who are coming to Cambodia to play this match and enjoy a holiday during their off-season, and who just happen to be packed to the gills with experienced professionals who ply their trade in the top divisions of both the Korean and the Japanese Leagues. This is not a minor university team like Ulsan University, who gave the Cambodian national team a run for their money in the last couple of years, but a team made up of players with genuine experience in the highest levels of Asian football. Korean football is known for its competitive nature, physical prowess, pace and hard work combined with a high level of technical ability, so Crown can expect a tough pre-season warm-up game ahead of them. The game is likely to be televised.

Of the visiting squad of sixteen players, only defender Kim Kun Hoan has worn the shirt of the Korean Republic national team. The 26-year old, who has played in the J-League for the past five years with Yokohama Mariners, Montedio Yamagata and Sagan Tosu, played in the 2008 Olympics and made his senior debut against Oman. Four of the squad currently perform in the Japanese League. Defender Choi Jae Eun is with V Varen Nagasaki, joining the J-Leaguers from Incheon United. Midfielder Kim Jung Hyun is just 22 and plays with FC Gifu, whilst Moon Joo Won played with Daegu and Gangwon in Korea before moving to Sagan Tosu. Eight of the squad are with clubs in the Korean top flight with a key man to watch being 23-year old striker Jung Sung Min, the K-League reserve's top scorer before stepping up to the Gangwon team last year. The others are: Lee Ho (Gangwon, Daejeon Citizen), Kang Woo Ram (Bucheon, Daejeon), An Dong Hyeok (Gwangju), Lim Hyun Woo (Daegu), Jung Chul Woon (Gangwon, Daejeon), Han Deok Hee (Incheon, Daejeon), Kim Nam Chun (FC Seoul), joining Pattaya United's Ko Jii Man and two Kwangwoon University players, Song Chi Hun and Lee Hu Gwon. After playing against PPCFC, the Koreans will head to Sihanoukville for a few days R&R before heading home and the start of their domestic season in March.
Choi Jae Eun from V Varen Nagasaki

Striker Jung Sung Min from Gangwon

With FC Gifu in the J-League, Kim Jung Hyun

Kim Kun Hoan has spent the last 5 years in the J-League

Midfielder Moon Joo Won was last with Sagan Tosu in Japan

Cup action

The AFF Suzuki Cup kicks-off later today when Vietnam line up against Myanmar in Bangkok in Group A. Also in the same group, and playing each other immediately after, are hosts Thailand and Philippines. Tomorrow Indonesia and Laos start the Group B matches, which are being played in Malaysia, with the host country and Singapore also in the fray. You will recall that Cambodia failed to qualify for the final stages after losing all four qualifying matches which took place in Yangon - versus Timor Leste 5-1, Laos 1-0, Brunei 3-2 and Myanmar 3-0 - which saw Cambodia finish bottom of the rankings and sounded the death knell for coach Hok Sochetra. Since Sochetra's departure, the country's football federation have decided not to appoint a successor as they have no matches in the pipeline. Saving a few pennies and stalling the development of the country's national team at the same time. All the Suzuki Cup matches will be live on TV across the region, including Cambodia.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back to earth

PPCFC line-up: Back LtoR: Srin, Boris, Pheng, Seiha, Thierry, Rady. Front: Seyha, Sothy, Makara, Dani, Borey (capt) - click to enlarge.
Their fine pre-season form came back down to earth with a bump this afternoon, when Phnom Penh Crown came unstuck against the Hanoi T&T U-21 team in the 2nd Pool B game of the BPTV Cup, played in Dong Xoai in Vietnam. Coach Sam Schweingruber commented; "The result looks worse than the performance and wasn't really fair to be honest. They had 4 chances and scored three excellent goals. We had 60%+ possession of the ball but we didn't create enough chances. 2nd half we were better but just couldn't find the breakthrough and they caught us again on the counter-attack." Without the injured Sos Suhana (hamstring) from the start, Crown went behind on 15 minutes and on the stroke of half-time conceded a second from a header. After the break, Hong Pheng was unlucky not to score and Pheak Rady went off with an ankle injury, before Hanoi broke away and netted a 25-yard scorcher on 78 minutes. A minute before the end of what was ultimately a disappointing day for Crown, it went from bad to worse. A hard challenge from Kok Boris was seen by the referee as too aggressive and he flashed a red card, to add to four yellow cards for Ouk Sothy, Bin Thierry, Khim Borey and Ngoy Srin. That means Boris, Sothy and Srin will miss the final group match against Preah Khan Reach on Sunday. Injuries are likely to rob Crown of Rady, Suhana, Mart Hasan (ankle) and Thourng Day (sickness) for the same game too. Just for the record, PKR hammered the Laos TV team 17-0 in the 2nd game of the afternoon.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Dani, Seyha (Phearun 88), Srin, Rady (Lika 59), Boris, Thierry, Makara (Dara 70), Sothy (Pisa 75), Pheng (Morslim 88), Borey. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Da, Kano, Hasan. Bookings: Sothy, Thierry, Borey, Srin; Boris (red card).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Crown kick-off in style

PPCFC v Laos TV line-up: Back LtoR: Srin, Boris, Seyha, Rady, Pheng, Thierry. Front: Makara, Seiha, Suhana, Dani, Borey (capt). Click to enlarge
The BPTV Cup burst into life for Phnom Penh Crown this afternoon as they demolished their first opponents in Pool B of the competition, the Laos National TV team. Crown ran out easy 5-1 winners but with more composure in front of goal it should've been a lot more. Head coach Sam Schweingruber admitted his team began nervously before taking control and destroying the opposition after the interval. Captain for the day, Khim Borey slotted home a 20th minute penalty kick to calm Crown nerves after Men Seyha was felled on the edge of the box. If they thought they'd have it their own way, the Laos team thought otherwise and levelled eight minutes later, and it needed a brilliant one-handed save by Samrith Seiha to keep it that way, moments later. Borey fluffed a couple of good opportunities as the teams went in all-square at the break. Ten minutes into the second half and Hong Pheng's tricky run and persistence paid off with a lucky bounce that allowed him to slot Crown back in the driving seat. Another ten minutes later and substitute Mart Hasan finished calmly following a Bin Thierry pass that sent Pheng to the bye-line and his pull-back was inch perfect. Thierry and Kok Boris had long range efforts tipped over before Pheng headed his second on 76 minutes, standing all alone as Seyha's cross was floated in. Borey rounded off the scoring spree, with a simple tap-in after another Seyha run and sweet low cross. Bookings for Boris, Pheak Rady, Ngoy Srin and Ouk Sothy were undeserved according to the coach and may count against Crown later in the competition. They will now meet the Hanoi T&T U-21 team on Friday. Hanoi were three goals to the good against Preah Khan Reach in the earlier game before PKR stormed back to draw 3-3. 
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Dani, Seyha, Srin, Rady (Lika 75), Boris (Dara 75), Thierry, Makara (Hasan 49), Suhana (Sothy 58), Pheng (Pisa 80), Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Da, Phearun, Kano. Bookings: Boris, Rady, Srin, Sothy. To see the match highlights on YouTube, click here.

Official website on the mend

The Phnom Penh Crown official website - - has been unwell for a few months. Like a sickly child. In actual fact it's not been updated for quite a few months, until today. With the help of a Crown fan in the United States, Matt Kun, the website is nearly back to full fitness and is up and running, albeit gingerly, at last. It will be thoroughly updated over the coming weeks but I'm happy to report its over the worst and will go from strength to strength ahead of the upcoming new season. In its absence, the club's Facebook page has taken up the mantle and with over 3,000 likes, its become an online Mecca for Crown football fans with a thirst for club news.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The BPTV Cup draw

The PPCFC squad enjoy a photo op at Gold City Casino. Click to enlarge

Phnom Penh Crown will kick-off their pre-season preparation in Vietnam tomorrow when they meet unknown opposition in the form of a Laos TV team, in Pool B of the invitational Binh Phuoc TV Cup 2012, being played in Dong Xoai, the capital of Binh Phuoc province, located just north of Ho Chi Minh City. The Crown team left Phnom Penh on Sunday morning, stopping for lunch at the Gold City casino on the border at Trapeang Sre, before heading to their hotel in Dong Xoai. The draw for the tournament, two groups of four teams each, was made at the team manager's session this morning and paired Crown with local rivals Preah Khan Reach, as well as the Laos TV team and the Hanoi T&T U-21s from Vietnam. The draw for Pool B is as follows;
Wed 21 Nov: v Laos TV - 3:30pm
Fri 23 Nov: v Hanoi T&T U-21s - 1:30pm
Sun 25 Nov: v Preah Khan Reach - 1:30pm
The semi-finals will be on Wednesday 28 November and the final two days later, Friday 30th. In the other group, C-League champs Boeung Ket face the national U-21s from Laos, Ho Chi Minh City and hosts Binh Phuoc. Two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals. Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber will select from a squad of 22 players. Club captain Kouch Sokumpheak is with the squad but is still some way off returning to the team, still undergoing rehabilitation from the knee ligament injury he suffered in July.

The PPCFC squad out shopping in Dong Xoai, Vietnam

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hard luck story

The starting PPCFC Academy line-up. Back Row ltor: Sakrovy, Piphop, Sodavid, Samnang, Baraing, Chanpolin. front: Noeut, Phearath, Muslim, Chansopheak, Rozak

No one likes a cheat to prosper. Hence the vexation at the end of this morning's friendly game between the Phnom Penh Crown Academy and the Preah Khan Reach U-16s, which the latter won 3-2. The PKR goalkeeper pole-axed Chhuot Senteang, conceding a stonewall penalty and his dangerously-high tackle merited a red card. He got a yellow and then saved Ouk Sovann's spot-kick that was hit too straight. It should've been PKR's second dismissal of the game, after two yellows in the space of a minute for one of their strikers five minutes before half-time. Sportingly, Crown allowed PKR to return to eleven players for the duration of the 2nd half. Today was the sixth meeting between the two teams in the past six months and the older PKR team continue to hold the advantage, winning three of the games, with three draws completing the results; 1-1, 0-1, 2-2, 3-3, 3-5 and today's 2-3 reverse for Crown.
On a soggy RSN pitch due to overnight rain, PKR began strongly and were two goals up after 14 minutes, after Crown twice surrendered possession in dangerous areas and were made to pay. It was 20 minutes before Crown tested the PKR keeper for the first time. On 32 minutes, PKR were reduced to ten-men after a rush of blood, twice, by one of their players. A misplaced back-pass gave Mat Sakrovy an early opportunity to reduce the arrears, which he gobbled up, two minutes before the break. After half-time, Crown at last found their feet and their passing game, with Mat Nuron finding Orn Chanpolin and his 22-yard super strike levelled the scoreline twenty minutes into the 2nd period. Ten minutes later and another defensive error allowed PKR to nose back in front. A couple of minutes after that and Senteang was floored and forced to limp out of the game, after a shocking goalkeeper's challenge, but Sovann's penalty was too tame. In the final minute, Sraing Titchhy's free-kick was tapped home by Yeu Muslim but a linesman's flag went up late to deny Crown's U-14s the draw their efforts deserved.
Chhuot Senteang is denied by the goalkeeper

Ouk Sovann's penalty kick was saved

The last minute tap in at the far post by Yeu Muslim was flagged offside

The Academy adopt the club's new happy-slappy pre-match routine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Up close and personal

PPCFC Coach Sam Schweingruber offers up his pre-match instructions
A few photos from the Phnom Penh Crown camp, taken on Monday when the Crown team beat Naga Corp 1-0 in a pre-season friendly match at RSN Stadium. Crown now travel to Vietnam on Sunday for a two-week tournament to continue their pre-season preparation, with the Hun Sen Cup competition due to begin on 20 December.
Mart Hasan controls the ball in pre-match warm-up

Pre-game team bonding, with happy-slappy replacing the team huddle

Hong Pheng challenges the Naga keeper Rovinyothin

Half-time team talk with coach and players

After-match knocks and strains for Boris, Rady and Thierry

Monday, November 12, 2012

Crown sink Naga

Khim Borey heads the game's only goal on 49 minutes
Coach Sam Schweingruber won't allow his young Phnom Penh Crown team to rest on their laurels after their 1-0 win over the vastly experienced Naga Corp this afternoon. Last season's beaten play-off finalists Naga have added even more know-how to their line-up but found Crown's youthful line-up a tough nut to crack. With just a few weeks together as a squad under their belt, Schweingruber will be pleased that his side won a tough battle against seasoned opponents in just their third outing under his control, before they head off to Vietnam for their pre-season tournament on Sunday. Practice matches like this are not necessarily good indicators for the coming season as teams try out new tactics and formations and make numerous changes in each match. Schweingruber will certainly err on the side of caution, with Naga creating nearly as many chances as his team, though it was Crown's most experienced player, Khim Borey, who was the difference, grabbing the only goal of the game four minutes into the 2nd half. For Naga, no less than 5 ex-Crown players were on the pitch at various intervals including new arrivals Tieng Tiny and Chan Dara, as well as Sun Sopanha, Sun Sovannrithy and San Narith.
The PPCFC line-up: Back Row LtoR: Borey, Pheng, Seyha, Boris, Rady, Srin. Front Row: Thierry, Makara, Da, Suhana, Seiha. Click to enlarge.

The match was played at Crown's RSN Stadium and it was Bin Thierry who offered up the first strike, playing in a central midfield role alongside fellow import Kok Boris, winning the ball off Om Thavrak and sending a low drive a foot wide after three minutes. Ngoy Srin was alert to divert a goal-bound shot from Kop Isa, before Leng Makara's header brought a diving save from Naga keeper Pich Rovinyothin. A raking cross-field pass from Khim Borey found Hong Pheng in space but his curler missed the upright by a yard. On 34 minutes, Borey raced onto a Boris through ball, headed over the stranded Rovinyothin and rolled the ball into the net. The referee initially awarded the goal, only to rule it out when he spotted the linesman's late flag. A few minutes later Thierry sent another long drive skidding wide before Boris thumped the ball from 25 yards out, only to see Rovinyothin throw himself full-length to his right to paw the ball away. Isa volleyed over the top to bring the first-half to a close.
The 2nd half opened up with Crown in control and within four minutes of the restart, Khim Borey ghosted into the six-yard box to head Bin Thierry's precise corner kick down and past an impotent Rovinyothin for the game's opening goal. Five minutes later and Borey's deft pass saw Leng Makara whip in a powerful drive which the keeper did well to block with his body and clear the danger. Twenty minutes gone and Crown conceded a free-kick just twenty yards from goal. Chuon Chum arched the ball over the wall and onto the post with Pen Stephane whacking the loose ball against the other upright as Naga came closest to scoring. With Kouch Dani probing from left-back, he tried his luck with two shots from outside the area, both going wide of the target. Srin was booked for pulling back Chhim Sambo and from the resulting free-kick, Tiny's punt was pushed over from under the bar by Yok Ary in the Crown goal. And that, in terms of chances, was it. Crown were visibly elated to have won against their much-favoured opponents and will take the positives from their battling qualities into the rest of their pre-season programme.
Crown line-up: Seiha (Ary 46 (Chamrouen 80)), Da, Seyha (Dani 62), Srin (Lika 83), Rady, Boris (Hasan 62), Thierry (Pisa 83), Suhana, Makara, Borey (Sothy 69), Pheng. Subs not used: Phearun, Kano, Dara, Morslim. Bookings: Srin.
The starting line-up for Naga Corp including ex-PPC Sopanha, Dara and Narith

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Academy back in gear

PPCFC Academy in the first-half v Army
It has been exactly a month since the Phnom Penh Crown Academy youngsters played their last match. And it showed. The boys were rusty in the early stages of their match this morning, against an Army team who were mostly boys a year or two older than the Crown Academy line-up. Though their passing game on a soggy RSN Stadium pitch wasn't up to their usual standard initially, they were still too good for the Army team, and their shooting came to the fore, particularly in the first-half. In fact I recall only one serious attempt on goal by the Army team in the whole 90-minute match, when Ouk Sovann cleared off the goal-line. At the other end, Crown took a three-goal half-time lead and with a completely changed line-up at the interval, went onto record a 4-0 victory. Long Phearath ventured forward to open the scoring on ten minutes with a left-foot stinging half-volley from a wide angle. Twenty minutes later In Sodavid picked his spot, the top left-hand corner, with a powerful sidefoot from 22 yards out. On the stroke of half-time, Orn Chanpolin lashed in another screamer from 25 yards, which gave the hapless keeper no chance. 10-men Crown had played for twenty minutes without centre-half Sraing Titchhy who twisted his ankle. After the break, the Army successfully repelled Crown's advances until ten minutes from time when Mat Sakrovy cut inside his marker and unleashed another thundering effort into the top corner. Four fabulous strikes, all from outside the penalty box. Another successful day at the office for the Crown Academy.
The 2nd half Academy team

In Sodavid breaks into the Army penalty box

Half-time team talk from coach Bouy Dary

Back Row, LtoR: Kiry (coach), Ponvuthy, Chanchav, Sodavid, Piphop, Senteang, Titchhy, Chanpolin, S Samnang, Baraing, K Chhaya, Sakrovy, Sovann. Front Row: Phearath, T Chhaya, David, Muslim, Noeut, Chansopheak, Ronaldo, Nuron, Rozak, V Samnang, Dary (coach)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crown match PKR

PPCFC starting line-up v PKR. Back Row (LtoR): Srin, Thierry, Pheng, Hasan, Lika, Seiha. Front Row: Makara, Da, Suhana, Dani, Boris. Click to enlarge

Pre-season practice matches are exactly that, warm-up sessions ahead of the upcoming new season. Earlier this afternoon, Phnom Penh Crown stepped onto their own soggy RSN Stadium pitch to play their second warm-up game, this time against Preah Khan Reach, one of the teams that will join Crown on their Vietnam adventure in a week's time. Age-wise, there was little to choose between the two teams, with PKR just shading it as the younger of the two, though their team has played together for the past couple of years, whilst Crown's line-up has been together a matter of weeks. That should please Crown coach Sam Schweingruber when he reflects on how the game turned out, with the home team going behind, but recovering quickly and getting the lion's share of the chances created. They were without their experienced duo of Khim Borey (groin) and Kouch Sokumpheak (knee ligament). The first opportunity of the game came on ten minutes as Leng Makara headed a Thourng Da free-kick wide of the far post. Preah Khan then took the lead with their first real thrust as Crown lost possession and Sok Chanraksmey broke into the Crown box before slotting neatly wide of Samrith Seiha on 17 minutes. Seven minutes later and Crown were level after some penalty box trickery by French-Khmer import Kouch Dani. Hong Pheng's shot was blocked and the ball squirmed out to Mart Hasan, who laid the ball back into the path of the onrushing left-back Dani. With his quick-feet and futsal ball control, Dani sidestepped two defenders and unleashed a powerful drive from fifteen yards out that the PKR keeper couldn't keep out. 1-1. Pheng had a shot blocked soon after and then played in Sos Suhana, but the national teamer was almost too precise with his finish, and it rolled the wrong side of the upright. With half-time approaching, Suhana fired in a low cross-shot which Kok Boris was inches away from applying the finishing touch, and then Hasan stung the fingers of the PKR keeper from 25 yards out. Half-time arrived with the scores level.

Six minutes after the interval, Makara's pace took him away from his marker and a poor defensive clearance teed-up Boris with a 20-yard pile-driver that flashed inches wide. The remainder of the match failed to live up to its first-half promise, with both coaches making a series of personnel changes, and though PKR visibly tired in the latter stages, Crown couldn't quite take advantage with Hasan squandering their best chance, firing high and wide as he surged into the penalty box. Prak Mony Udom wasted PKR's best opening, also firing too high on the turn. So bragging rights were shared, though Schweingruber will feel the happier of the two coaches, knowing his team can get a lot better. Picking out the best Crown player on show, I would share it between Boris and Hasan in central midfield, though Dani's goal was a cracker and his presence in a midfield role late in the game, could've very nearly won it for the home team.
Crown line-up: Seiha (Ary 46), Da, Dani, Srin (Dara 85), Lika (Rady 57), Boris (Sothy 72), Hasan, Suhana (Phearun 51 (Pisa 77)), Makara, Thierry (Seyha 77), Pheng. Subs not used: Chamrouen, Kano, Morslim. Booking: Pisa
Coach Sam Schweingruber explaining his point of view, alongside Bouy Dary

Half-time team-talk in the shade

A free-kick by Kouch Dani

Crown's scorer v PKR, Kouch Dani

Pre-match sprints for Bin Thierry and Leng Makara

Pre-match warm-up for Makara and Kok Boris

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pre-season prep

Time for an update on Phnom Penh Crown's pre-season preparations. They've already beaten AEU 4-1 and face Preah Khan Reach and Naga in a couple more warm-up matches before they take part in an invitational international football tournament in one of the southern Vietnamese provinces later this month. It's called the Binh Phuoc TV Cup 2012 - it used to be known as the Number One Cup and played between armed forces from Vietnam, Cambodia  and Laos - and will be held in Dong Xoai, the capital city of Binh Phuoc province, between 19-29 November. There will be eight teams taking part, two groups of 4, the top two teams progress to the semi-finals and final. Three clubs from Cambodia; who are PPCFC, Preah Khan Reach and Boeung Ket Rubber Field, three from Laos; namely the Laos Army, Champasak and the Laos U-21 team, and two from Vietnam; the Binh Phuoc U-21s and the Ho Chi Minh City Youth team. On paper, it looks like the toughest teams will be the U-21 side from Laos and the Cambodian teams. PPCFC are treating it as part of their pre-season prep and as a bonding session, to help all the new players find their feet and build team morale and spirit. On their return, coach Sam Schweingruber will look to play two more practice matches before the Hun Sen Cup is due to begin on Thursday 20 December, though the draw for the Hun Sen cup hasn't yet been made.

Thierry in 7 Days

Thierry Bin speaks in 7 Days
Today's Phnom Penh Post's 7 Days edition contained a short interview with Phnom Penh Crown's French-Khmer striker Thierry Bin, in an article on Khmer returnees.
Thierry Chantha Bin, Paris, France, 21
I only came back to Cambodia last week, I'm from Paris. I'm playing professional football for the Phnom Penh Crown. I came with the Khmer Europe team in September, a selection of the best players of Cambodian origins in Europe. I was then signed by Crown after a few weeks of negotiation. I was the first French-Cambodian player to join the Cambodian premier league. I was born in France, my parents fled just before the fall of Phnom Penh. I have been back twice, in September 2007 and 2012, but in 2012 it was just to play a single game of football.
The hardest part about being back is the heat. I'm currently living in a clubhouse with other local players. You can imagine how the living conditions here are different from what I've known in France. I came here to know better my country of origin, so it's up to me to adapt and make it a good experience.
Cambodia is completely different to the image my parents portrayed to me. I think I'd like to stay here for a long time - my parents are in France though. I have a one-year contract and will see after that. It would be awesome to join the national team. It was amazing to see the TV crews waiting for me at the airport. I think I could have a long-term career here, so yes, I plan to stay a long time.

Thierry's club, Phnom Penh Crown are set to play two more warm-up matches before they head to Vietnam for a pre-season tournament. They meet Preah Khan Reach on Monday 5 November at 2pm, and then face Naga Corp on Sunday 11 November at 3pm, with both games scheduled for Crown's RSN Stadium in Tuol Kork.