Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going down bravely

The Cambodia U-14s salute their national flag and anthem
The Cambodia U-14s didn't fare so well in their second match in the AFC U-14 Championships being held in Myanmar, when they went down 5-0 to a much taller and stronger Indonesia team yesterday. The competition is for 14 year olds though the majority of the Cambodian team are just twelve and that matters a lot at that age, where young boys are reaching puberty and growing at different speeds. Khmer boys are generally smaller in stature and with their poor diets that doesn't help either. It's a problem that needs to be looked at in depth in order to give Cambodian sporting youngsters a better start in the future. At the moment they do not match up to their Asean counterparts. The U-14s battled bravely yesterday but lost out after a promising 0-0 draw in their first match against Bangladesh. They have a rest now until they meet Laos on Friday in the third of their five-match tournament. Here's a picture of the boys singing the Cambodian national anthem which created a wave of interest amongst Khmer football fans on facebook yesterday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A new experience

Cambodia U-14 line-up: Back Row LtoR: Samnang, Sopharith, Chanmony, Saphy, Komapitu, Kakada. Front: Mustafa, Davith, Panha, Kimhong, Piseth
It's a new experience for players making their international debut for Cambodia, to not lose. But that's exactly what happened with the Cambodia U-14 national team today. Meeting Bangladesh in their opening game in Group F of the AFC U-14 Championship qualifiers, Cambodia achieved a creditable 0-0 draw and by all accounts should've won the tie. They did everything but score, including showing their passing ability and teamwork to great effect. Now they just need to find their goalscoring form. Their second match is against Indonesia tomorrow morning. The games are being played in a massive stadium in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. Yesterday's attendance was a mere 30 people. Bouy Dary is the coach in charge of the team, taking time out from his Phnom Penh Crown Academy duties to lead the squad. The U-14 squad is as follows; Svang Samnang (captain), Sin Kakada, Tong Chanmony, Thy Ronaldo, San Davith, Lim Pisoth, Nop David, Ny Mustafa (all PPCFC), Sao Sopheak, Sem Dona, Tep Komapitu, Heng Kimhong, Mao Piseth, Tang Rithyviwath, Em Sopharith, Chhun Devy, Tray Vicheth (all Svay Rieng), Kong Rafat, Sary Slaiman, Yoe Saphy (all Prek Kdam), Sok Panha (Battambang).

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Academy aftermath

In the aftermath of the Phnom Penh Crown Academy's defeat in the first game of the FAM-Frenz U-15 Asean Champions Trophy, losing 4-0 to PVF from Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday night, Academy coach Bouy Dary, who flew straight to Myanmar to coach the Cambodian U-14 national team, had this to say. "Though we lost, I was happy enough because the team fought as a team, and we played the way I want to play by starting to defend in our own half. Then we did really well when we got the ball and were brave. We made four good chances in the first half, but we were obviously smaller and slower than them. Now we know where we need to improve and this will help us plan our training. To play 90 minutes is not easy against bigger and stronger teams, so we must work harder than before to be fit and last the whole match. I'm already looking forward to the return match at home, as we were cleverer than they were." With Dary now in Myanmar for the AFC U-14 Championships, the build-up to next Saturday's second ACT game, at home, for the Crown Academy will be overseen by the club's head coach Sam Schweingruber.

Sam was with the team in Vietnam and offered up his thoughts on what the Crown Academy learned from the 4-0 defeat to PVF. "The Academy will train every morning from Monday to Friday in preparation for the next game on Saturday with Frenz. I expect the game to be similarly difficult. We have to build up our endurance and resistance to be able to compete over 90 minutes at this level. We need to improve our preparation so that key players don’t go out with cramps, etc. We play well, we know the game, we have good skills but under constant pressure and with physical disadvantages (such as height, strength, speed and endurance) we obviously end up making mistakes, and that will be our goal to eliminate these mistakes. We also lack some conviction around the opponents box, we have good build up but problems with the final pass and we fail to create enough chances against good teams. So lots to work on, but this is precisely why we have joined the Asean Champions Trophy, to test ourselves against stronger opposition." The kick-off time has yet to be confirmed but the Olympic Stadium will be the venue for Saturday's (1 June) hosting of the Frenz Malaysia A team, who beat NFA Singapore 2-1 in their tie on Sunday.

The Cambodia U-14 national team flew out from Phnom Penh on Sunday to Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar (Burma) to take part in the AFC U-14 Championships qualifying group stages. Crown Academy coach Bouy Dary is in charge and he has flown straight from Vietnam to join the squad, alongwith goalkeeper Svang Samnang, after yesterday's Asean Champions Trophy match. Assisting Dary will be assistant coaches Oum Savong and Ouk Mic and Lidwina Niewold as physio. The U-14s matches are as follows:
28 May v Bangladesh - 3.30pm
29 May v Indonesia - 9am
31 May v Laos - 6pm
2 Jun v Thailand - 3.30pm
3 Jun v Singapore - 9am

The Cambodia U-14s flying to Myanmar for the AFC U-14 Championships

Saturday, May 25, 2013

PVF prove too strong

PPCFC Academy v PVF. Back Row LtoR: Titchhy, Senteang, Sovann, Baraing, Chanpolin, Samnang. Front Row: Nuron, Muslim, Chansopheak, Chhaya, Sodavid.
Entering an Asean-wide youth competition is a massive step-up for the Phnom Penh Crown Academy youngsters and that's exactly how they found it in their opening match of the FAM-Frenz U-15 Asean Champions Trophy tonight in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam's PVF Academy, from Ho Chi Minh, are the 2012 Vietnamese champions at U-15 age level and they proved to be the tough opponents that coach Bouy Dary expected. With the match played under floodlights at the Thanh Long Sports Center, Dary began with his strongest line-up and on 17 minutes they looked to have earned a penalty when Yeu Muslim was brought down, only for the referee to acknowledge the linesman's flag and award offside instead. A minute before the half hour and PVF took the lead. Doan Trung faked his initial shot to thwart two defenders and then fired past Svang Samnang in the Crown goal from twenty yards out. On 37 minutes, Crown failed to clear a corner, PVF's first, and Doan Trung crashed in a shot to make it two goals up at half-time for the home team.

After the break, PVF extended their lead on the hour and it was Doan Trung who was on hand to net from close-range for his hat-trick. Crown coach Bouy Dary made changes to bring on fresh legs but it was PVF who scored again, twelve minutes from time, when Samnang fumbled a shot and Vu Tin was on hand to tap home the rebound. So a 4-0 defeat for the Crown Academy on their first outing in the new Asean Champions Trophy. They now have an understanding of just how hard it will be against teams like PVF, Chonburi and Frenz Malaysia. PVF were bigger in stature and strength, were aggressive from the opening minute and they clinically punished any mistakes. For Chonburi, they opened up their account tonight with an 8-0 home win over Timor Leste U-15s which included a hat-trick for Sittichok Paso.
The PPCFC Academy line-up: Samnang, Chansopheak, Baraing, Titchhy, Sovann (capt), Chhaya (Rozak 85), Sodavid, Chanpolin (Piphop 64), Nuron (Ponvuthy 88), Muslim (Phearath 81), Senteang (Noeut 58). Subs not used: Chanvuthy, Chanchav. 
The teams line-up for the national anthems

Friday, May 24, 2013

Carrying hopes

Back Row, LtoR: Dary (coach), Sodavid, Titchhy, Sovann, Senteang, Dinarong, Baraing, Samnang, Chanchav, Chanpolin, Ravan, Chanvuthy. Front Row: Ponvuthy, Nuron, Chhaya, Muslim, Phearath, Chansopheak, Noeut, Piphop, Rozak.
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy squad line-up at Phnom Penh's International Airport before they leave to fly to Ho Chi Minh City courtesy of Air Asia. They take on Vietnam's PVF Academy in the opening match of the FAM-Frenz U-15 Asean Champions Trophy at 7.30pm tomorrow (Saturday) evening.  

Meanwhile, Sam Schweingruber, the Swiss-born head coach of Phnom Penh Crown and the coach of the Cambodia Girls team has been handed a third role, as the head coach of the Cambodian U-16 national team. The U-16s will travel to Napyidaw in Myanmar to take part in the AFF U-16 Championship qualifiers between 20-31 August. Cambodia are in group A with Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar and Australia. Sam and his coaching assistants have already been running the rule over potential recruits to the squad including his club's Academy boys, who are in Vietnam ahead of their first game in the Asean U-15 Champions Trophy tomorrow. Assisting Sam with the role will be Bouy Dary (the U-14 national coach and PPCFC Academy head coach), Ieng Saknida, Keo Kosal, Ung Kanyanith and goalkeeping coach In Sokha. Saknida and Sokha are also in Vietnam with the Crown Academy squad, as are Schweingruber and Dary.

Champions in waiting

The FAM deputy president presiding over last weekend's press conference
At the official press conference to announce the new FAM-Frenz U15 Asean Champions Trophy held in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) deputy president HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (pictured above) said; “This Under-15 tournament should not just be a tournament for the younger players to gain exposure, but it should be the place where they learn to become champions." I can't argue too much with that, albeit the expectation for under-15 year olds maybe a little high. In many respects he's really putting the pressure on the Malaysian boys from Frenz United to perform out of their skin. As the organisers of the competition, he expects them to win. As for the Phnom Penh Crown Academy, their journey towards that goal begins at the Thanh Long Sports Center ground in Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow evening (7.30pm) when they take on the PVF Academy (Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talents), regarded as the best Academy in Vietnam, and the 2012 national champions at both U-13 and U-15 levels. The Academy youngsters flew out from Phnom Penh this morning under the leadership of the Academy head coach Bouy Dary, with Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber tagging along for good luck. This is the start of a great opportunity for the Academy team, pitting themselves against the best that other Asean countries have to offer. We've no idea what will happen, but rest assured, I know they will give their best for club and country. The squad for tomorrow's match is: Kung Chanvuthy, Svang Samnang, Ken Chansopheak, Suon Noeut, Long Phearath, Ouk Sovann, Sraing Titchhy, Seut Baraing, Men Piphop, Ouk Dinarong; Orn Chanpolin, Choun Chanchav, Sath Rozak, Theang Chhaya, In Sodavid, Kunthea Ravan, Mat Nuron; Pov Ponvuthy, Yeu Muslim, Chhuot Senteang.
You may notice three names that are not members of the usual Academy squad and they are Kung Chanvuthy, who is a goalkeeper from Prek Kdam and two Preah Khan Reach players, defender Ouk Dinarong and midfielder Kunthea Ravan. They have joined the Crown team for these Asean Champions Trophy matches to add depth to the squad and because all three are likely to appear in the national U-16 squad later this year, alongside many of the Academy players.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Post coverage

Phnom Penh Post article - click to read
The Phnom Penh Post sometimes comes up short with its local football coverage but credit where its due with their article today on the news regarding the FAM-Frenz U-15 Asean Champions Trophy that kicks off this Saturday, when Phnom Penh Crown Academy face the PVF Academy in Saigon. The Post have encapsulated the details of the new competition perfectly.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ASEAN Champions Trophy for Crown Academy


One of the most exciting developments in Asean youth football for decades will begin this coming weekend, on Saturday 25 May. The first round of matches in the brand new FAM-Frenz U-15 Asean Champions Trophy 2013 will take place with all 11 Asean nations competing for the first time in a Champions League-style club competition. With substantial prize money at stake - US$50,000 going to the champions and US$25,000 to the runners-up - this new competition is the brainchild of the Football Association of Malaysia and the Frenz United Football Academy of Pahang, Malaysia, with major sponsorship partners including the regional airline carrier, Air Asia.

Twelve hand-picked teams regarded as the best in each country, which will include two from the Frenz United Academy in Malaysia, will play home and away matches in two groups, with the top two teams going onto contest Semi-Finals and the Final over two legs. Cambodia’s representative will be the Phnom Penh Crown Academy, regarded as possessing the cream of U-15 youth footballers in the Kingdom amongst their ranks. For their competition debut, PPCFC Academy will travel to meet Vietnam’s PVF Academy in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday 25 May for a 7.30pm evening kick-off. The following Saturday, 1 June, PPCFC Academy will be on home soil for the first time to entertain the Frenz Malaysia Academy side, with the game scheduled for the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. Kick-off time to be confirmed next week.

The organisers and their sponsors are guaranteeing the cost of flights, accommodation, food and transport for all teams’ away matches, so when the PPCFC Academy plays away for example, all costs will be covered for twenty players and five officials. For home matches, it is PPCFC Academy’s responsibility to host their visitors at the Olympic Stadium. There will be an admission charge to watch the games at the Olympic Stadium.
The two groups are as follows:
Group A: Frenz Malaysia A, Singapore NFA, Vietnam PVF Academy, Phnom Penh Crown Academy, Thailand Chonburi Academy, Timor Leste U-15s.
Group B: Frenz Indonesia, Myanmar Mandalay Academy, Lao Toyota Academy, Brunei U-15, Philippines U-15, Frenz Malaysia B.

The fixtures for the PPCFC Academy are as follows:
Saturday 25 May AWAY v Vietnam PVF FA at Thanh Long Sports Center, Ho Chi Minh. KO 7.30pm.
Saturday 1 June HOME v Frenz Malaysia A at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh. KO to be confirmed.
*Thursday 6 June AWAY v Singapore NFA at Jalan Besar, Singapore. KO 7.45pm.
Saturday 15 June AWAY v Timor Leste U-15 at Municipal Stadium, Dili. KO 3.45pm.
Saturday 22 June HOME v Chonburi FC Thailand at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh. KO to be confirmed.
Saturday 29 June AWAY v Chonburi FC Thailand at Chonburi Stadium. KO 6pm.
Saturday 6 July HOME v Timor Leste U-15 at Olympic Stadium, Phom Penh. KO to be confirmed.
*Saturday 13 July HOME v Singapore NFA at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh. KO to be confirmed.
Saturday 20 July AWAY v Frenz Malaysia A at Frenz Stadium, Pahang. KO 8.30pm.
Saturday 27 July HOME v Vietnam PVF FA at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh. KO to be confirmed.
2 Leg Semi Finals on 3 and 17 August. 2 Leg Final on 24 Aug and 1 Sept.
*Provisional Dates to be confirmed.

At the Official Press Conference to announce the competition, held at the weekend in Kuala Lumpur, the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) deputy president HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said; “This Under-15 tournament should not just be a tournament for the younger players to gain exposure, but it should be the place where they learn to become champions. It must start at this stage, and the coaches must play their roles to bring up these champions. I am very proud that the tournament is taking place in Pahang (where he is the Crown Prince, and home of Frenz United), and my hope is to see a Malaysia team win the US$100,000 prize money.”
Phnom Penh Crown President, Mr Rithy Samnang, spoke about the benefits of the new U-15 Asean Champions Trophy. "This new competition is a fantastic opportunity for Cambodia's best U-15 players to compare themselves against the best players of the same age across the Asean region. It’s a ground-breaking competition which will allow the young players of Cambodia to understand what is required to match their Asean neighbours, who have historically performed better than Cambodia on the international stage. I am so excited by this Asean Champions Trophy, and I urge all Cambodian football fans to support this new competition."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Academy success in Singapore

Winners in Singapore. Back Row LtoR: Sath Rozak, Seut Baraing, Kim Chhaya, Svang Samnang. Front: Suon Noeut, Nop David, Men Piphop, Choun Chanchav
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy have just added another trophy to their cabinet by winning the Singapore Soccer Sixes Youth Tournament at the Padang in Singapore earlier today. The writing was on the wall as they went through yesterday's group stage, winning all five matches against foreign teams, not conceding a goal and scoring 19 of their own. And that's without a recognised striker in the eight-strong squad. Under the direction of coach Bouy Dary, the Academy have experienced this competition on two previous occasions, finishing 3rd and then 2nd last year. So they were determined to go one better this time around and that's exactly what they've achieved. In today's semi-final they saw off the Klung Toey team from Bangkok and then triumphed, 2-0 against another Thai team from Phuket, Youth Home, with the final goal scored by their rock-solid defender and captain, Seut Baraing. Very fitting. The matches were played at the Padang, the bowling-green surface of the Singapore Cricket Club, and the tournament is regarded as the most prestigious six-a-side competition in Asia. For the record, Suon Noeut and Kim Chhaya both topped the scorers chart with 7 goals each. Not bad for attacking full-backs.
Here are the results with scorers:
v Klung Toey (Thai) Won 2-0: Chhaya, Noeut
v Youth Home (Thai) Won 5-0: Chhaya 2, Noeut, Rozak, Piphop
v Bali Sports (Indo) Won 4-0: Noeut, Baraing, Chhaya, David
v Hevea MK (Indo) Won 2-0: Chhaya, Baraing
v Rumah Faith (Malay) Won 6-0: David, Chhaya, Rozak 2, Noeut, Piphop
v Klung Toey (Semi-final) Won 4-0: Noeut 2, Piphop, Chhaya
v Youth Home (Final) Won 2-0: Noeut, Baraing.

Great stuff from the Academy boys, nearly all of whom are just thirteen years old, and another piece of silverware for the trophy cabinet. PPCFC expect to announce more exciting news for the Academy in the coming days.

Academy downed again

PPCFC Academy Back Row LtoR; Titchhy, Sodavid, Senteang, Soksela, Sovann, Chanpolin. Front: Muslim, Chansopheak, Nuron, T Chhaya, Phearath.

Earlier today, the Phnom Penh Crown Academy faced their club-mates, the first-team players who didn't feature in yesterday's C-League game against National Police, at RSN Stadium in a practice match. As they did the week before, the Academy held the first-team particularly well in the first half but succumbed early in the 2nd half. This time around the first-team ran out 4-0 winners with three goals in the first nine minutes of the second period effectively killing off the Academy challenge. Ly Morslim headed the first and Bin Thierry slotted in the second. Chhom Pisa crashed a shot against the cross-bar which Morslim was on hand to tuck away the rebound. Just after the half hour mark on the 2nd half, Chea Dara ventured up from the back to flick in the fourth.
PPCFC first-team line-up: Ary (Soksela), Dara, Phearun, Narin, Srin, Tes Sophat (Makara), Pisa (Boris), Kano, Ratana, Morslim, Thierry.
PPCFC Academy: Soksela (Vuthy), Chansopheak, Phearath, Titchhy, Sovann, T Chhaya, Sodavid, Chanpolin, Nuron, Muslim (Ponvuthy), Senteang.
1st-team line-up. Back Row, LtoR: Narin, Srin, Thierry, Pisa, Kano, Ary. Front: Dara, Sophat, Ratana, Morslim, Phearun.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Foreign imports strike

PPCFC v Nat Police. Back Row LtoR: Seyha, Pheng, Boris, Ha-Neul, Lika, Obadin. Front Row: Sokumpheak, Da, Seiha, Makara, Borey (capt).
Phnom Penh Crown coach Sam Schweingruber beamed a big smile at the end of his team's 3-0 win over National Police at the Army Stadium today, as his Crown charges got their season back on track to move into third spot in the Metfone C-League. "It went really well today," said the Swiss-born coach. "It was about getting back to our Kirivong performance and forgetting the BBU disaster, and I think we did a good job in displaying that fighting attitude, belief, passion and motivation to win the game. The gameplan was to go for everything from the 1st minute and make it impossible for them to play through us...A very good day. We did a lot of things really well today. And no bookings, which makes a nice change, despite the referee giving almost everything against us the entire game." There were goals for each of Crown's foreign imports involved in the game, though Dutch striker Elroy van der Hooft missed out with a knee injury and French-born Bin Thierry sat out through suspension. Schweingruber will be pleased with the work-rate and positive attitude shown by his players today, they were often first to the ball, closing down their opponents in vital areas and reacting quickly on the break. They took the lead on 26 minutes through South Korean Lee Ha-Neul, who had a storming performance on his return from suspension, in only his second game. The Police defence failed to clear and Sky, as he's known to all, pounced on the loose ball and hit a first-time dipping drive that arrowed into the corner of the net from 25 yards out. Up to that point, it was all Crown. Ha-Neul had already tried his luck with a long range drive over the top before Leng Makara twice went agonisingly close. Picked out beautifully by Ha-Neul, Makara chested the ball forward but leaned back and skyed his shot from eight yards out 14 minutes into the match. Eight minutes later and Khim Borey skated past the full-back and delivered a pinpoint cross which Makara reached first but directed his header past the far post. Crown continued to press and cause Police concerns though they only had a Borey high and wide effort to show for their troubles. Ha-Neul looked to break into the box just before the break but was held back by San Thideth, who was fortunate just to get a yellow for his professional foul. Borey placed the free-kick wide of the target.

The pattern of the second half pretty much followed the first with Crown dominating and pulling the strings. Eight minutes in and Kouch Sokumpheak, revelling in a central midfield role, broke and crossed for Borey but Police stopper Yasuyuki Yoshida won the duel. Next up, Borey collected a Ha-Neul chip and weaved his way into the box but the opportunity to shoot fizzled out. Fifteen minutes played and a Ha-Neul thirty-yard shot was deflected for a corner. A peach of a corner kick from Sokumpheak was tipped onto Odion Obadin's head by Yoshida but the keeper was able to catch the rebound. Obadin was again in the action two minutes later as Sokumpheak's cross and Borey's neat touch set him up fifteen yards out, but his blast sailed past the far post. Crown increased their lead on 68 minutes from another corner power-play. Ha-Neul showed a clean pair of heels to Joel Omoraka on the bye-line and pulled it back, only to see Borey's tasty shot tipped onto the bar by Yoshida's amazing one-handed point-blank save. From the resulting corner, Sokumpheak's dead-ball was met by a surging run from Obadin and his powerful header gave Yoshida no chance. A minute later and the Police were down to ten men, Thideth picking up a silly second yellow for obvious dissent. There was no way back for the Police after that. With 15 minutes to go, Crown brought on their other Korean import, Choi Jae-Cheol and within a minute his compatriot had slotted him through but Yoshida was equal to his angled shot. With the clock ticking down, Ha-Neul chipped a cheeky ball over the top of the defence and Jae-Cheol's first-time lob just cleared the cross-bar. At the other end, Crown keeper Samrith Seiha was alert to thwart Tith Dina as he broke through the back-line for the first time in the match and fired in a goal-bound shot. Twenty seconds before the end of normal time, Kok Boris and Sos Suhana combined to put Jae-Cheol in space and his well-placed shot quickly nestled in the far corner for Crown's third. Yoshida denied Suhana in the fourth minute of injury time, but the damage had already been done and Crown's well-deservedd victory took them into third place above NagaCorp.
PPCFC Line-up: Seiha, Da, Seyha (Jae-Cheol 75), Lika, Obadin, Boris (Dara 91), Sokumpheak, Ha-Neul, Pheng, Makara (Suhana 65), Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Ratana, Narin, Morslim, Kano, Phearun, Pisa. Bookings: None. MOTM: Ha-Neul.
Head coach Sam Schweingruber speaks to the press after the 3-0 success

Friday, May 17, 2013

2nd Round fixtures

A reminder of Phnom Penh Crown's 2nd Round of matches in the Metfone C-League. The top four clubs at the end of the domestic campaign, then meet in the Super 4 Play-offs to determine the champions. Not my ideal way of finding out which team deserves it.
The full 2nd Round fixtures for PPCFC are:
Sun 5 May v BBU - Army Stadium. PPCFC lost 1-0.
Sat 18 May v National Police - 3pm Army Stadium
Sun 2 Jun v Senate - 4pm Olympic Stadium
Sun 9 Jun v Army - 2pm Olympic
Sat 15 Jun v Boeung Ket - 2pm Olympic
Sat 22 Jun v Svay Rieng (ex-PKR) - 2pm Olympic
Wed 26 Jun v NagaCorp - 2pm Olympic
Sat 29 Jun v AEU - 4pm Olympic
Sat 6 Jul v Kirivong - 4pm Olympic.

Play-offs begin the following weekend. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Girls Football Festival

PPCFC girls coach Sorn Srey Teav shows off the Crown jersey
The 2nd National Girls U-15 Football Festival kicked-off this morning after yesterday's press conference and draw at the Crown Sports Bar. The playing kit for each of the 12 teams has its own sponsor, with the German Embassy providing a big chunk of the funds needed to stage the event, organised by the SALT Academy from Battambang, under the guidance of Crown coach Sam Schweingruber. The Army Stadium is the venue for the group matches today and tomorrow morning, each team plays three games and then later tomorrow, finals day, will see the knock-out phase and the appearance of special guest, singing sensation Meas Soksophea who will be performing between 3-5pm. Phnom Penh Crown have a team under the leadership of coach Sorn Srey Teav but the outstanding favourites to carry off the title are the Mighty Girls from Battambang, the strongest female team in the country for the last few years.
The draw and today's matches

Sam Schweingruber (right) and Horst Triller from the German Embassy at the draw

SALT Academy organisers, LtoR; Linda, Theresia, Socheata, Dany, Channou

Monday, May 13, 2013

Academy Timeline

Lest we forget the progress made by the Phnom Penh Crown Academy in the little over two years it's been in existence, here's a brief potted history of the Academy:
February 2011 saw a new chapter begin in the Phnom Penh Crown FC story. Following trials in seventeen provinces around Cambodia, twenty-two young players, aged 13 and under, became the first intake at the club’s Elite Football Academy, the first full-time residential Academy in the country.
It is the vision of Crown President Rithy Samnang to develop well-rounded, technically-gifted players who will represent both club and country in the years to come. With support from the Asia Pacific Football Academy (APFA), the Academy programme is individually tailored and provides players with an opportunity to maximise their football potential whilst placing a strong emphasis on their academic studies. Not only interested in developing great football players, Crown are also aiming to develop great people as well.
Under the leadership of Academy head coach Bouy Dary and assisted by Kao Kiry, both former Cambodian international players and qualified coaches, the Academy squad surpassed all expectations in their first year of existence. International exposure is a key element of the youngsters’ development and half of the squad returned from a six-match visit to the Singapore Sixes youth tournament in June with a creditable third place. The other half of the Academy pool of players enjoyed a three match training tour to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and included a 6-3 success over the Vinamilk-Arsenal Soccer School on their travels.
Closer to home, Crown hosted the inaugural First State Gold Investment Cup in September 2011 with both Academy teams getting through to the cup final to ensure the trophy stayed at home, with the match televised live on national TV. In domestic competition, they carried off the Barclays Capital Indochina Starfish U-13 Championship in May 2011 and repeated the feat in the U-14 Championship in March 2012, scoring 127 goals and winning all twelve matches they played.
July 2012 saw the Academy return to take part in the Singapore Sixes youth tournament, losing out in the final on penalty kicks. A month earlier, 17 of the 22 Academy squad were selected to represent Cambodia in the AFC U-14 Festival of Football in Malaysia. Two Academy players, Orn Chanpolin and Chhuot Senteang travelled to Vietnam in August to represent Cambodia in the Aspire Football Dreams trials.
At the beginning of 2013, the Cambodia Football Development League for youth players at U-12, U-14 and U-16 age levels began and Crown currently sit in first place in the U-16 category with six wins out of six. The Academy have also travelled to play matches against local teams in provinces across the country. Three of the Academy’s youngest players have been selected in the Cambodia U-14 squad for the AFC U-14 championships in Myanmar in May.
All twenty-two players are now in their second full year at the Academy, living in dormitory accommodation at the club’s Tuol Kork training headquarters and attending coaching sessions each morning and private school every afternoon. They have also benefitted from coaching visits from none other than Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, as well as former Chelsea Manager Ken Shellito and Austrian assistant national coach Fritz Schmid.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Internal dispute

First-team line-up. Back Row LtoR: Srin, Lika, Keo Dara, Boris, Phearun, Thierry. Front: Chea Dara, Ratana, Sophat, Morslim, Pisa.
Finding teams to give the Phnom Penh Crown Academy a tough game is hard in itself. The mostly fifteen year olds are easily the best in their age group nationwide and that means the majority of their matches have to be against older opposition. Very soon they will announce their admission into a major new youth competition which will knock the spots off anything they've been involved in so far. The details of this new competition will be known soon enough. In the meantime, on Sunday morning, they played a friendly game against the Crown first-team squad players who aren't regulars in the C-League or who have missed recent games through suspension. With head coach Bouy Dary on his way back from Bangkok where he took a team to compete in the Thailand U-13 Tournament, Kao Kiry was in charge as the Academy took on their more senior clubmates for the very first time. For most of the first half the Academy were clearly in control, frustrating their opponents with their keep-ball game-plan. The best chance fell to In Sodavid but Keo Dara in the first-team goal stood tall to keep out his vicious drive, until the Academy deservedly took the lead just after the half hour. Sraing Titchhy broke from defence and surged into the box only to see his shot rebound off the foot of the post, but Chhuot Senteang was on-hand to tap the ball home and put the youngsters in front. Ten minutes after the break, the Academy made changes and that gave the first-team enough momentum to get back into the match. Vi Lika headed against the upright before 15 minutes into the second half, Bin Thierry capitalised on a misplaced pass from Ouk Sovann to fire in the equaliser. Five minutes later, Sovann, normally the most reliable defender in the Academy squad, repeating his error and Thierry scored again, though looking suspiciously offside. Five minutes more and the first-team were firmly in control as Kok Boris slammed in a drive from twenty yards to seal a 3-1 success for the senior team. It was a rare defeat for the Academy but their first-half display showed what they are capable of and they will look forward to a re-match I am sure.
PPCFC first-team line-up: Keo Dara, Chea Dara, Phearun (Kano), Lika, Srin, Tes Sophat, Pisa, Boris, Ratana, Morslim (Phearun), Thierry.
PPCFC Academy: Soksela, Chansopheak, Baraing, Titchhy (Chanchav), Sovann (V Samnang), T Chhaya (K Chhaya), Sodavid (Rozak), Chanpolin (Piphop), Nuron (Phearath), Muslim (Sakrovy), Senteang.
Academy line-up. Back Row LtoR: Titchhy, Sodavid, Sovann, Soksela, Baraing, Chanpolin. Front: Chansopheak, Muslim, Nuron, T Chhaya, Senteang.

Kok Boris (red) takes on Yeu Muslim and Ken Chansopheak

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The U-14 squad

Cambodia U-14 squad - click to enlarge
These are the 20 boys in the Cambodia U-14 national team squad, who are making their way back home from Bangkok this afternoon, after featuring in the Thailand U-13 Invitation Tournament, winning 1 and losing 3 of their matches. They will re-group and carry on daily squad training sessions before heading to Myanmar for the AFC U-14 Championships before the end of this month.
Cambodia U-14 squad - click to enlarge

Taking heart

The PPCFC U-13 line-up that beat Brunei 2-0 this morning
A team under the Phnom Penh Crown name wrapped up their matches in the Thailand Invitation U-13 Tournament in Bangkok this morning. It's actually the Cambodia U-14 national team getting excellent preparation ahead of their AFC U-14 Championship qualifiers later this month in Myanmar, under head coach Bouy Dary. A few weeks ago a squad of 20 boys was selected after try-outs and have been training together, and living together, at Crown's RSN Stadium in Tuol Kork ever since. For the majority of the squad their trip to Bangkok was their first outside their own country and was a perfect baptism ahead of the more important AFC games coming up. Realistically, the tournament in Bangkok was to test the side's teamwork and to gain experience, winning matches was not expected, or a priority. They faced Malaysia in their first match on Wednesday and started badly, conceding a goal in the first minute. Malaysia struck three more before substitute Chhun Devy grabbed a last minute consolation for the Crown youngsters, who went down 4-1. The following day, Thailand were the opposition and proved too strong, running out 4-0 winners. In a much closer match on Friday, Laos managed to grab the all-important goal on 41 minutes and squeezed home 1-0. This morning was Crown's final match, against a Brunei team who'd finished bottom of their 4-team group. This time it was Crown's turn to celebrate with a two-goal salvo from Tang Rithyviwath, on 23 and 29 minutes, giving the Cambodian youngsters something to take home and take heart from ahead of their Myanmar trip. Captain of the team was Crown Academy goalkeeper Svang Samnang, who is just twelve years old and won't be 13 until October, though he towers over the rest of the squad in height. Two of the squad, Devy and Sary Slaiman are just ten years of age and two more are a year older. So its a extremely youthful squad that will take the lessons from Bangkok and put them to good use in the lead-up time to the AFC Championships. In Myanmar, Cambodia have been drawn in the same group, Group F, as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand and play their first match on 28 May. The 20-strong squad is: Svang Samnang, Sao Sopheak, Kong Rafat, Sary Slaiman, Sin Kakada, Tong Chanmony, Sem Dona, Tep Veasna Komapitu, Yoe Saphy,  Thy Ronaldo, San Davith, Nop David, Lim Pisoth, Heng Kimhong, Sok Panha, Mao Piseth, Tang Rithyviwath, Em Sopharith, Ny Mustafa, Chhun Devy.
The PPCFC team that went down 4-0 to hosts Thailand

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bounced out of the cup

It's time to look back at the AFC President's Cup qualifying matches just concluded earlier today at the Olympic Stadium. The first thing to note is that the home side, Boeung Ket, failed to progress. This is the third time the group matches have been played in Cambodia and the first time that the hosts have not gone onto the final stages. For the past two years, Phnom Penh Crown proceeded to the finals. This time around, the Rubbermen's hopes were high after opening up with a 6-0 win over the whipping boys from Sri Lanka but a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday to the wily Balkan team from Turkmenistan meant they had to beat the Palestinians from Al-Quds Hilal this afternoon. It was too much cat and mouse for my liking, there was little attempt to pummel the Palestine team into submission and the tentative approach didn't work as the visitors scored late on to win the game, 1-nil. No President's Cup glory this season for the current C-League leaders. Instead, Balkan deservedly top the group with a 3-2 win over Al-Quds and a 5-0 success earlier today against the Sri Lanka Army. They go onto the finals to be held in September. Al-Quds recovered from that first day loss to beat Sri Lanka 10-0 and give themselves the advantage going into today's tie. An advantage that gave them a cushion to go onto win in front of an official attendance of 5,500 at the Olympic Stadium.

Girl Power

The German Embassy are firmly behind the 2nd National Girls U-15 Football Festival which will take place next week in Phnom Penh. The finals day will be Wednesday 15 May at the Army/Old Stadium with special guest star Meas Sopksophea in attendance, singing and mingling with the girls from 3pm onwards. U-15 girls teams from all over Cambodia will be there and a team from Phnom Penh Crown will be joining in the fun. SALT Academy from Battambang are running the show and always do a fabulous job in organizing this and other football competitions for girls in this country. There will be a film screening at Meta House tomorrow (Sat 11th) from 7pm to kick the festival off.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Prek Kdam downed

The Academy starting line-up. Back Row LtoR: Chanpolin, Senteang, Sodavid, S Samnang, Sovann, Titchhy. Front Row: Phearath, T Chhaya, Nuron, Chansopheak, Muslim.
With no game in their regular league competition, the Phnom Penh Crown Academy took the opportunity to play the Prek Kdam Muslim Development team on Sunday morning at the RSN Stadium. Pitting themselves against a team a few years older then themselves, it was one-way traffic for most of the match, though the first-half only saw a single goal advantage by the interval. Chhuot Senteang, Mat Nuron and Yeu Muslim all went close before Senteang headed in Muslim's cross for a 28th minute opener. Just three minutes into the second half, In Sodavid's through ball allowed Muslim to crash his shot home for number two. Soon after, Muslim turned provider again and Senteang finished it off with a delightful chipped goal from 20 yards. Quick feet from Nuron resulted in a foul and a penalty which Sraing Titchhy finished with ease. Next, Sodavid picked out Men Piphop's surging run as he took the ball around the keeper to score. Rounding off the scoring, Muslim supplied rampaging full-back Ken Chansopheak and he squeezed the ball through the keeper's legs to emphasis the difference in class. Another five-star showing from the Crown Academy against bigger and older opposition.

BBU aftermath

Coach Sam Schweingruber giving his half-time team talk

Phnom Penh Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber gave his views on his team's 1-0 defeat to BBU on Sunday. "We made a lot of individual mistakes today, we gave the ball away while we were hoping to push upfront and our transition was often too slow, getting ourselves into big trouble. We were a bit unlucky a few times, was it offside or not but the game didn't really go our direction, and too many mistakes by individuals made it impossible for us to control the game. I'll have to see the penalty incident again. I wasn't surprised the referee gave it when I saw the situation. We defended poorly throughout the game, we missed Tony's (Obadin) experience and leadership in central defence and we gave them too much space. We felt good in training this week, working a lot on defending and transition but not much of that good work was seen today.
To create chances we need to do something with the ball but we turned it over to the opposition way too much,and too easily. Good individual players struggled today to control the ball, taking too many touches, it just didn't run our way at all. Certainly the pitch doesn't favour a team trying to play good football. BBU looked for the long ball much of the time and we then fell into the same trap, going over the heads of midfield. The field is terrible, it doesn't make playing football easy. The grass is not cut, its way too long and its bumpy in the middle of the pitch, making it very difficult. I also couldn't understand a lot of the referee's decisions. Silly things like inconsistent flagging, it wasn't good and any 50/50 balls went against us every time."

Certainly the pitch at the Army Stadium has always been a bone of contention. Just take a stroll down the center of the pitch from one goalmouth to the other and you will see immediately how difficult it is to control the ball down the spine of the whole field. Tufts of uneven grass, areas of sand and mud, much of both goalmouths lacking any grass at all, make the pitch a virtual lottery for teams. The stadium authorities allow way too many games to be played at the stadium and then expect to stage professional Metfone C-League games on it - its simply not a good enough surface to be acceptable for first-class matches. Off the field, there are no changing rooms or shower facilities either and how the football federation allow matches to be played here is beyond my comprehension. I've said this before and will continue saying it until I'm blue in the face. C-League games should not be played at the Army Stadium. Period.
Looking at one of the goalmouths, minus the grass
Uneven new grass has been added down the spine of the pitch

This piece of grass is an example of the length to be found across the surface with the bare center of the pitch in the background

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Indifferent Crown

PPCFC v BBU. Back Row, LtoR: Da, Boris, Seiha, Pheng, van der Hooft, Narin. Front: Sothy, Sokumpheak, Suhana, Makara, Borey.
After such a sterling team performance the week before to defeat Kirivong, it came as a surprise to everyone, the Phnom Penh Crown players included, how indifferent their display against Build Bright this afternoon could be. The same spirit and commitment was lacking, passes were poor in execution, defensively, we were not strong enough and last week's hat-trick hero Elroy van der Hooft was starved of service, after BBU took an early contentious lead. Referee Sang Sopheak felt Crown keeper Samrith Seiha had touched Chan Chaya's leg causing him to fall in the penalty area. Seiha disagreed vehemently. Chaya was happy to get one over on his former club as Prum Putsethy stepped up to send Seiha the wrong way in the 11th minute. It proved to be the only goal of the game. Crown began the match with four regulars suspended and a couple of others out with injury. BBU fired an early shot across Crown's bows when Pech Sina blasted high and wide when well-placed, whilst Sos Suhana broke into the BBU box only to see his drive saved at the second attempt by Sos Proshim. BBU then netted their debatable penalty, which saw skipper Sem Bunny pushing striker Ogudogun Ekelechukwu out of the area to allow Putsethy to take the kick, with the Nigerian angrily wagging his finger at his captain. The recent addition to the BBU line-up proved to be a thorn in Crown's side throughout the match and twice in two minutes he forced Seiha to smother a drive and then ran forty yards unopposed, only to blast his shot well wide. Six minutes before the break, Crown looked to have levelled when Suhana's neat flick from Leng Makara's pass eluded Proshim and nestled in the net. Referee Sopheak had other ideas and disallowed the effort for offside, which video later proved to be a poor call from the match officials. On the stroke of half-time, Seiha was alert to turn a Putsethy long-range skidder around the post.

Ekelechukwu was at it again at the start of the second period. After four minutes he left Leng Narin sitting down on the job but blasted over the bar and soon after, did the same to Seiha after he broke the offside trap, but as he rounded the keeper, he rolled his tap-in into the side netting. A lucky escape for Crown who surged up the other end and should've equalised. Suhana showed his marker a clean pair of heels as he surged into the box and laid on a low cross to Leng Makara at the far post. The winger had to tap home to level but spooned a glorious opportunity over the bar from close range. His miss would come back to haunt his team. Suhana drilled a 25-yard shot over the cross-bar and then brought on Choi Jae-Cheol for his first outing in a Crown jersey as they pressed for a goal with 17 minutes remaining. But it was BBU who nearly extended their lead as Ekelechukwu held off Thourng Da and fired a shot across the face of goal and just past the far upright. Within a minute, Jae-Cheol got his first touch, a downward header to Hong Pheng's deflected cross but Proshim was in the right place to collect. As Crown pressed, van der Hooft, battled free of his shadow, stole into the penalty area and let rip with a fierce shot only for it to hit a fallen Pin Pheara in front of goal. Two minutes later, van der Hooft controlled a pass from Khim Borey but directed his hasty shot across the face of goal and wide, while Kouch Sokumpheak was too wide to get a shot on target from Borey's cross and Crown were running out of time. Kouch Dani, opposing his former club, saw his free-kick punched clear by Seiha, who also held onto a long-range effort from Putsethy. Crown's final chance fell to Pheng in time added on but his low shot went straight into Proshim's hands and BBU were home and dry. Crown remain in 4th place having played their first match of the second round of the C-League campaign and will aim to remain in the play-off places as the season progresses.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Da, Pheng, Boris, Narin (Lika 57), Sothy, Suhana, Makara (Jae-Cheol 73), Sokumpheak, Borey, van der Hooft. Subs not used: Ary, Baraing, Dara, Dary, Kano, Seyha, Phearun, Ratana. Bookings: Boris. MOTM: Suhana.

Wrong again

Makara has already played the ball to Suhana (17, center), who's clearly onside
Jekyll and Hyde were at it again this afternoon. Last week's performance against Kirivong had the fans on their feet and the players raring to go. However, against Build Bright United today, much of the zest and spirit was missing and Phnom Penh Crown went down to a 1-nil defeat. I need to see the match video to judge whether Chan Chaya took a tumble deliberately or whether Samrith Seiha did get a touch, which he vehemently denies. What the video does show is that Sos Suhana's goal on 39 minutes was not offside as claimed by the match officials and the photo above proves it. Suhana (17) was clearly onside as the ball makes its way to him from Leng Makara's pass. Once again, the Metfone C-League officials have got it badly wrong. That aside, with regulars missing, Crown were not on the top of their game at any stage, going close in an improved second-half, but it wasn't good enough to get back into the match after BBU took an 11th minute lead from the penalty spot. More from the game later.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Elroy in the spotlight

Elroy van der Hooft before marking his debut with a hat-trick
With his match-winning hat-trick on his debut last Saturday, Winson Elroy van der Hooft made quite an impression. Tomorrow, he will play his second match against BBU, so its time we took a more detailed look at who this Flying Dutchman really is.

Elroy was born on 20 April 1990, in Zeven in Germany to Dutch parents with Indonesian roots on his mother’s side. The family moved to Holland when he was 7 years old and he began playing for his local Oegstgeeste-based team VV UDO. When he was ten he was spotted by the Ajax scouting system and began making the regular 30-minute journey to join the world famous AFC Ajax youth academy on a daily basis at De Toekomst. He remained at Ajax for six years progressing through the age group levels and appearing for the Dutch national U-15 youth team but was released by the club at the age of sixteen. He quickly joined Eredivisie League team ADO Den Haag’s youth set-up for two seasons without appearing in the senior team and then a season at another Eredivisie club, RKC Waalwijk, where he was the club’s youngest professional. Unable to make the breakthrough, he left and took six months off before rejoining his local amateur team VV UDO, where he topped the scoring charts and re-found his appetite for the game.

In August 2011, Elroy decided to try his luck overseas and signed a two-year contract with AO Xania (Chania FC) on the island of Crete in Greece. He did well for the Football League 2 team but the club had money problems and couldn’t pay him, so he returned home to play with VV UDO after a frustrating six months. Determined to continue his overseas adventures and spurred on by his mother’s Indonesian heritage, Elroy was successfully contracted by Indonesian Divisi Utama Liga team Persekap Pasuruan, who reside in East Java, at the beginning of April but as he missed the signing-on deadline, he was unable to play in the first half of their season. That alerted Sam Schweingruber, the coach of Phnom Penh Crown and Elroy was offered the opportunity to play the second half of the Cambodian League season before he returns to Indonesia in July. Wearing jersey number 49, and with just a couple of training sessions under his belt, Elroy made an explosive entry into the C-League top flight with a hat-trick on his debut against Kirivong last Saturday. Let's hope that continues for the remainder of the season.