Sunday, March 30, 2014

Honours even

PPCFC Academy back row, LtoR: Sovann, Baraing, Titchhy, Sodavid, Senteang, Chanpolin. Front: Chanvuthy, Phearath, Nuron, Muslim, Piphop - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 4 Phnom Penh Crown XI 4 (Friendly).
Sunday morning's in-house practice match between the older Academy team and members of the first team who didn't play in Saturday's Metfone C-League match against TriAsia, produced a glut of goals and let's put it down as some wayward defending. The Academy have been in a rich vein of form in recent weeks, so it came as no surprise when they opened the scoring after ten minutes with Sraing Titchhy netting with ease after a defence-splitting pass from Orn Chanpolin. Chances came and went for both teams, goalkeeping saves and poor finishing for both too, until Chhom Pisa escaped his marker and finished to give the senior team their equaliser two minutes before the break. Eight minutes after the restart, Pov Ponvuthy scored with a delightful chip over Keo Soksela, from another Chanpolin pass. Then it was the senior team's turn to level the scores again just two minutes later when a weak kick from Svang Samnang fell at the feet of Ly Morslim and his aim was straight and true to make it 2-2. On 68 minutes the seniors grabbed the lead through Newton Katanha as Pisa raced clear and laid the ball into his feet for a tap-in. Three minutes later it was all square again as Seut Baraing's superb left-wing cross was finished off in poaching style by Chhuot Senteang. Seven minutes from time and another defensive howler allowed Chanpolin space to take the ball around Soksela and walk it in, only for Morslim to run through the middle to level at 4-4 with just four minutes to go. Lots of goals, but must do better for both teams defensively speaking.
PPCFC Academy: Chanvuthy (S Samnang 46), Muslim, Phearath (Ponvuthy 46), Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Titchhy (Nuron 81), Nuron (Chanchav 46), Piphop, Senteang. Goals: Titchhy (10), Ponvuthy (53), Senteang (71), Chanpolin (83).
PPCFC XI: Soksela, Phearun, Dara, Da, Sokheng, T Chhaya, Morslim, V Samnang, Pisa, Katanha, Ary (Yaty). Goals: Pisa (43), Morslim 2 (55, 86), Katanha (68).
PPCFC senior XI, back row, LtoR: Ary, Phearun, Katanha, Soksela, Dara, Sokheng. Front: Da, T Chhaya, Morslim, V Samnang, Pisa - click to enlarge

Saturday, March 29, 2014

George nets the clincher

PPCFC v TriAsia, back row, LtoR: Boris, Bisan, Srin, Obadin, Borey, Yaty. Front Row: Sothy, Suhana, Pheng, Makara, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 TriAsia 0 (Metfone C-League).
George Bisan netted his fifth goal of the season and it proved to be the match-winner in this evening's Metfone C-League success for Phnom Penh Crown, who remain in pole position at the top of the league table, on goal difference from NagaCorp. TriAsia had the first effort at goal when a Kouch Dani free-kick flew high and wide but it was Crown who pushed on and held the upper hand for all of the opening 45 minutes. Early on, Ouk Sothy blazed a 30-yard effort a few yards wide of the upright and then Leng Makara, put in after a mazy run by Kouch Sokumpheak, was thwarted by Hem Simay's dash from his goal-line, the keeper's body blocking the attempt on goal. A booking for Phau Sophy, the TriAsia captain, for a poor challenge on Khim Borey, saw the Crown striker curl his free-kick into the area and Sokumpheak rose to head the ball past the post by a foot. On 19 minutes, Crown made their superiority count as they took the lead. Hong Pheng caught TriAsia unprepared with a quick throw-in and a neat one-two with George Bisan, sent the Nigerian hitman away, he skipped over a lunge and as Simay came out to meet him, he nonchalantly slipped the ball between the keeper's legs and into the gaping goal. And celebrated with his trademark double somersault. Crown sought to pile on the pressure as TriAsia wilted, with a Sothy cross-cum-shot just clearing the cross-bar and Pheng's 25-yard effort caught at the foot of the post by Simay. Borey sent another free-kick from distance just wide and Bisan again weaved his way into the penalty box but was blocked from getting his shot away. In time added on at the end of the first half, Kok Boris carried the ball from deep in his own half and into the TriAsia box, where he was clumsily taken out from behind but referee Thong Chankethya saw the challenge as a legal one. TriAsia closed the half with a Dani free-kick lobbed into the Crown area only to see Pheng head the danger clear.

A short corner kick at the start of the second period saw Sokumpheak, pushed forward in a more attacking midfield role for this game, send a low drive whistling past the near post. Another Dani free-kick from 25-yards missed the target again and Sok Chanrasmey, looking at least ten yards offside as he retreated back, lobbed the ball high and wide, with no flag or whistle from the officials. Bisan continued to be a threat and cut in from the left to send in a low drive which Simay grabbed at the second attempt. With 25 minutes gone, Chanrasmey sent TriAsia's best chance over the top of the cross-bar as the Crown backline was breached for the first time. A minute later Crown brought on South Korean striker Jeongho Kim and he was booked within a minute for a late challenge. His time on the pitch would prove to be short-lived. Soon after, Dani was wayward with another long range free-kick for the opponents, before Kim was clipped on the edge of the TriAsia penalty area and went down. Referee Chankethya saw it differently, brandishing a yellow card for simulation and then a red card, leaving the Korean to trudge off the pitch in tears, just five minutes after entering the fray. Refusing to sit back, Crown took the game to TriAsia with Borey whipping over a perfect cross for Bisan to head powerfully towards goal, Simay got a fingertip to it and touched it onto the cross-bar. A back injury to Sou Yaty caused some concern and Bisan again bludgeoned his way into the box, only to have his way to goal blocked and despite five minutes of injury time, Crown comfortably wrapped up the three points.

Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber gave his aftermatch opinion: "It was very comfortable in the 1st half, they had no chances. They may've had slightly better possession in the 2nd half but only the one real chance when Smey put it over the top. Then the red card and we go 1 man down, its always a bit more difficult, it gives them momentum but they mainly launched long balls, and Tony and Boris in particular, cleaned it all up. We were unlucky with George's header that could've been a 2nd goal. The 2nd half wasn't pretty but we needed the 3 points and that's what we got. For our goal, we'd studied them and out of the last 8 goals conceded, 7 were from set pieces and a throw-in is a set piece. We thought they might be vulnerable, and it was a very cool finish from George. In the last 2 games we saw a quieter George, but we know what he can do on his day, and I'm very happy for him to score the match-winning goal today. I might have to take some of the blame for Jeongho's sending off. I criticised him in training games for not being physical and aggressive enough. So I wasn't too unhappy over his 1st yellow. On the 2nd yellow, I'll have to look at the video. I thought he was fouled, but the referee saw it as a dive. You never know. But you do wonder when similar things keep happening with the same referees. I'm happy with the team's performance and I'm proud of my team, a man down, we managed to stay tight, win and collect the points."  
PPCFC v TriAsia: Yaty, Srin, Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Sothy (Kim 71), Suhana, Sokumpheak, Makara (Sokheng 82), Borey, Bisan (Pisa 92). Subs not used: Ary, Da, Sosela, Dara, Morslim, Titchhy, Chanpolin. Bookings: Srin, Kim (+ red card 76). MOTM: Obadin - made sure TriAsia had zero chances and must've had severe headache from heading the ball so much. Goal: Bisan (19). 

The TriAsia line-up before the game begins includes 4 ex-Crown players

Sunday, March 23, 2014

3rd time lucky

PPCFC v TriAsia, back row, LtoR: Chanpolin, Chanvuthy, Baraing, Senteang, Sovann, Titchhy. Front Row: Piphop, Noeut, Chansopheak, Phearath, Sodavid - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 3 TriAsia 'B' 0 (Friendly).
The Crown Academy U-16s had a score to settle. Two previous friendly matches against TriAsia 'B' had ended in defeat with honours after good performances but defeats nonetheless. With the youngsters in preparation for the forthcoming Asia Champions Trophy, recent performances have been getting better and better and today's RSN Stadium clash culminated in a deserved 3-0 success against the full-timers of the C-League new moneybags club, TriAsia. Crown just edged the possession in the 1st half though goal opportunities weren't exactly overflowing. Orn Chanpolin ballooned well over early on and the Academy had two free-kicks blocked by the defensive wall as they made most of the offensive moves. Sraing Titchhy's early ball over the top saw Chhuot Senteang round the keeper but his goal attempt was cleared off the line, and after Ouk Sovann's free-kick was easily collected by the keeper, Chanpolin had another attempt, which was smothered by the TriAsia keeper, who was the busiest player on the park. Then two minutes before the break, and Crown broke the deadlock. A superbly flighted pass by Chanpolin left two Crown players in space behind the defence and it was Men Piphop who walked the ball over the goal-line. TriAsia brought on 1st team regulars Nwakuna Friday and Seng Kosen at the break and missed a headed sitter at the start of the second half. Crown also made changes and continued to push forward. Twelve minutes into the half and the visitors were fortunate to still have eleven players on the park. Their keeper Keo Dara caught the ball outside his box as Senteang challenged but the referee only awarded a free-kick, when a red card was a distinct possibility. Sovann stepped up and curled the direct free-kick from 22 yards over and around the wall and into the net. Justice was served. Just a minute later and Crown were in seventh heaven, extending their lead to three. A quick-fire move on the left flank involving Suon Noeut and In Sodavid put Senteang in on goal and his first-time drilled shot nestled in the far corner. It was no more that Crown deserved for their tenacity and positive attitude. More substitutions followed and one of them, Svang Samnang, between the sticks for Crown, saved with his feet as Kosen tried to find a route back for TriAsia. It didn't happen and Crown ran out 3-nil victors, in a match which showed how far they have come in recent months. 

PPCFC v TriAsia: Chanvuthy (S Samnang 62), Chansopheak (Muslim 49), Phearath (Titchhy 49 (T Chhaya 87)), Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid (Ponvuthy 76), Piphop (Rozak 49), Noeut (Chanchav 86), Titchhy (Nuron 34 (V Samnang 79)), Senteang (K Chhaya 81). Bookings: Titchhy. MOTM: Baraing. Goals: Piphop (43), Sovann (57),Senteang (58).
The TriAsia starting line-up, who went down 3-0 to the PPCFC Academy

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Captain Pheak nets two

PPCFC starting XI, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Boris, Makara, Katanha, Srin, Bisan. Front Row: Borey, Pheng, Suhana, Sokumpheak. Yaty - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 5 Albirex Niigata 1 (Friendly).
With the Metfone C-League season in the midst of a three-week break, Crown took the opportunity to play another friendly match, this time against Albirex Niigata, at the RSN Stadium, playing 3x45 minute periods to ensure both squad got sufficient game time. And with just five minutes on the clock, Crown took the lead when Kouch Sokumpheaks spotted Leng Makara's forward run with a precise pass and the wideman took the ball on and drilled it low past the goalkeeper from the edge of the box. Makara returned the favour after 12 minutes when he whipped in a low center and Sokumpheak was waiting to tuck the ball home from six yards out. Crown continued to dominate and create chances with Newton Katanha dragging a shot wide, Odion Obadin having a header saved low down and Makara sending a back post drive into the ground and up onto the cross-bar. Sou Yaty saw his first action when he saved from Mart Hasan's effort. Sos Suhana had a powerful drive tipped over by the strong hands of the Albirex keeper and then Katanha headed over from Khim Borey's drilled corner. On 37 minutes, Crown added to their tally when Sokumpheak was again in the right spot in front of goal to finish off a sweet move involving Obadin, Katanha and Ngoy Srin, who pulled his center back from the byeline to his waiting skipper. Two minutes later, Albirex caught the home team napping as they broke quickly and
Kataoka Michinori got a toe to the ball as Yaty came racing out of his box, for a consolation. 3-1 to Crown at the first interval. Borey and Katanha were foiled early on after the restrat before Obadin added another to Crown's tally on 59 minutes. The giant defender escaped his marker and easily headed home from Borey's lofted corner kick. Albirex fluffed a great opportunity when they struck the post and Rafael Oliveira's goalbound shot was deflected wide, as both teams made a series of substitutions. In the third period, Oliveira fired across the face of goal and Ly Morslim sent a header wide when it seemed easier to score before Crown added their fifth goal of the afternoon. Jeongho Kim threaded a pass through to Chhom Pisa and he kept his cool before curling a shot into the top of the net on 119 minutes. Before the end Kim blazed over the bar from close-in and Chhout Senteang miscued in front of goal, while Oliveira had his shot grabbed low down by the keeper. Crown ended the game with five Academy youngsters on the field. 
PPCFC v Albirex: Yaty (Ary), Srin (Oliveira), Pheng (Dara (Da)), Boris (Pisa (Sodavid)), Obadin (Sarak), Sokumpheak (Sothy (Baraing)), Suhana (Sokheng (Nakamura)), Borey (Sosela (Chanpolin)), Makara (Morslim), Bisan (Titchhy (Sovann)), Katanha (Kim (Senteang)). MOTM: Sokumpheak.  Goals: Makara (5), Sokumpheak 2 (12, 37), Obadin (59), Pisa (119).
PPCFC in 3rd half. Back Row, LtoR: Kim, Pisa, Oliveira, Dara, Sarak, Ary. Front: Morslim, Sothy, Sosela, Sokheng, Titchhy - click to enlarge

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crown's ACT fixtures

The list of fixtures in this season's edition of the region's most exciting youth competition for Under-16 players, the Asia Champions Trophy 2014, beginning in May, have been amended. The new fixture list is below. 12 teams from 11 different countries in Asia including new teams from China and India will join this year. It promises to be another fantastic competition for our Academy youngsters with matches on a home and away basis against U-16 teams from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Laos. Drawn in Group B, each team plays 10 matches and the top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals. Here is the schedule of matches for the Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s, with venues/times to be decided very soon;
Sat 17 May v Guangdong FA China - away
Sat 24 May v Frenz Malaysia B - away
Sat 31 May v Lao Toyota - home (live on Bayon TV)
Sat 7 Jun v Mandalay Utd Myanmar - home (live on Bayon TV)
Sat 14 Jun v Frenz Malaysia B - home (live on Bayon TV)
Sat 21 Jun v Lao Toyota - away
Sat 28 Jun v Guangdong FA China - home
Sat 5 Jul v Mandalay Myanmar - away
Sat 12 Jul v Chonburi Thailand - home
Mon 21 Jul v Chonburi Thailand - away.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sixteen goals in two games

PPCFC U-16s, back row, LtoR: Chanvuthy, Rozak, Baraing, Chanchav, Sodavid. Front: Nuron, Muslim, Noeut, Chansopheak, Piphop, Phearath - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 5 Chamkarmon FC 1 (Friendly).
Another test against the adult team Chamkarmon, a team who played in the recent Hun Sen Cup competition. However, the Academy U-16s, preparing for their Asia Champions Trophy matches starting in May, had already beaten Chamkarmon 5-1 a couple of weeks before and this afternoon's match went along similar lines. In what was pretty much one-way in Crown's favour for the opening half, Seut Baraing had a free-kick pushed aside at the foot of the post and Sath Rozak lobbed the ball onto the top of the cross-bar. Yeu Muslim ran onto Men Piphop's pass anbd fired against the foot of the upright and then sent the rebound across the face of goal. Essentially passing their way through their opponents, Piphop had a shot saved at point blank range by the keeper, as did Muslim and as half-time arrived with no goals, Suon Noeut blazed a glorious chance over the bar from ten yards out. At the start of the second-half, Noeut had two more efforts saved by the Chamkarmon keeper, before coach Bouy Dary made no less than eight changes that brought a fresh impetus to Crown's attacking efforts. An avalanche of goals followed quickly with the Academy netting 4 goals in an exciting ten-minute spell. On 62 minutes Kim Chhaya's thirty-yard effort crashed onto the cross-bar and as the ball came down Sraing Titchhy outjumped a defender to head home. Two minutes later, Chhaya moved up from left-back, played a quick one-two with Mat Sakrovy and clipped his shot over the keeper for Crown's second. Soon after Sakrovy escaped the last defender but his chip over the keeper was cleared off the goal-line, before he scored Crown's third with an acrobatic bicycle-kick on 69 minutes, ending a move that saw him hit the foot of the post and Titchhy's follow-up shot blocked on the goal-line before his classy finish. A defence-splitting pass from Chhuot Senteang sent Pov Ponvuthy sprinting clear and his aim was true as he slipped the ball under the keeper. More opportunities came and went for Orn Chanpolin and Senteang before Chamkarmon scored a consolation goal out of the blue as a 35-yard effort sailed into the net. Six minutes before the end, Vat Samnang rounded off a beautiful move when he sent a first-time curling effort into the net from Senteang's bye-line pass. On the full-time whistle, Titchhy ghosted past three players but was denied by the foot of the keeper's outstretched leg. A masterful performance from the Academy U-16s, who recorded their second 5-1 win over the same team in two matches.
PPCFC U-16s v Chamkarmon: Chanvuthy, Chansopheak (T Chhaya 64), Phearath (Ponvuthy 54), Chanchav (Sovann 54), Baraing, Sodavid (Chanpolin 54), Piphop (Sakrovy 36 (Chanpolin 44) (Sakrovy 46))), Rozak (V Samnang 59), Noeut (Titchhy 54), Nuron (K Chhaya 54), Muslim (Senteang 54). MOTM: Rozak - getting stronger with every game. Goals: Titchhy (62), K Chhaya (64), Sakrovy (69), Ponvuthy (72), V Samnang (84).
PPCFC U-14s, back row, LtoR: Chanmony, Rafat, Saphy, N David, Sovannaroth, S Samnang. Front Row: Samel, Piseth, S David, Pisoth, Kakada - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-14s 11 Prek Kdam 0 (Friendly).
In the earlier of the two matches played Sunday afternoon, the Academy U-14s were too strong for their opponents from Prek Kdam and it was really a matter of how many goals they would score once the floodgates opened after five minutes, with Mao Piseth poking the ball in from Tong Chanmony's corner kick. On 19 minutes a Piseth cross was headed past his own keeper by a defender and five minutes later San David let fly from twenty yards as the ball sailed into the net. On 28 minutes Piseth strode clear and rolled the ball into Chanmony's feet for a simple tap-in and six minutes before the half-time break, Piseth finished with confidence from Pich Sovannaroth's pass. In between there were a host of chances for Piseth and Chanmony that were squandered. After the break, the goal-glut continued. Five minutes in and Sin Kakada floated in a free-kick from 20 yards out. On the hour, Kakada's center in front of goal was turned in by a defender for a second own goal, and ten minutes later, Piseth got his hat-trick goal with a tap-in from Mit Samel's cross. On 75 minutes, Kakada was on hand to turn in Chanmony's cross-shot, and three minutes later he returned the favour, as Chanmony claimed his second. To round-off the scoring, Kong Rafat, playing in defence instead of his usual spot between the sticks, launched a 30-yard free-kick that bounced over the keeper's hands and in, to make it an 11-0 trouncing.
PPCFC U-14s v Prek Kdam: S Samnang, Sovannaroth, Samel, Saphy, Rafat, N David, S David, Pisoth, Kakada, Chanmony, Piseth. MOTM: Piseth with his hat-trick. Goals: Piseth 3 (5, 39, 70), Kakada 2 (50,75), Chanmony 2 (28, 78), OG's 2 (19, 59), S David (24), Rafat (81).
The Academy boys in black and white after the matches

Saturday, March 15, 2014

In the news today

The Football Federation have invited 29 players to attend Cambodian national team training beginning on Monday, ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying competition to be held in October, which is seven months away. Seven Phnom Penh Crown players have been named in the provisional list and they are: Sou Yaty, Hong Pheng, Kok Boris, Bin Thierry, Sos Suhana, Kouch Sokumpheak and Khim Borey. The rest of the training squad call-up are: (Boeung Ket) Pancharong, Vathanaka, Sokngon, Samoeun, Sovan, Laboravy; (Naga) Rithy, Thavrak, Sovannrithy; (TriAsia) Chanrasmey, Simay, Sinoun, Virak, Dani; (Army) Vichet, Chhoeun, Soksana, Khemrin; (Svay Rieng) P M Udom, Sophea; (Nat Police) Piseth, Ol Ravy.

Breaking news of former Phnom Penh Crown head coach David Booth who has just taken charge of Lao Toyota FC of Vientiane in the Laos Premier League. He was the head coach of former Indian League champions Salgaocar last season before leaving and seeking a new appointment. That came earlier this week and it's a return to a country where David was the national team coach in 2010.

The 2014 Hun Sen Cup was won by National Police with a 2-0 win over BBU in the final at Olympic Stadium this evening. Goals by Noun Borey and Ol Ravy clinched it, and Police also picked up the top keeper (Prak Phearun) and most valuable player (Tith Dina) awards too. Boeung Ket's Khuon Labvoravy won top scorer award with 14 goals.

Crown downed by students

PPCFC v AEU 1st half, back row, LtoR: Bisan, Chanpolin, Kim, Pheng, Sarak, Yaty. Front Row: Da, Morslim, Sokheng, Suhana, Makara - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 AEU 2 (Friendly).
In the second of their practice matches at RSN Stadium this afternoon, Crown dominated the opening half but failed to add any more goals to their early strike against AEU. A header by Jeong Ho Kim was blocked on the goal-line after just a couple of minutes before Crown took the lead on 8 minutes. Leng Makara darted to the bye-line and his low cross was snapped up by Ly Morslim who tucked it home with glee from close range. George Bisan will kick himself for firing wide of the target after a neat set up by Kim and with the first-half coming to a close, Morslim's goal-bound shot was blocked by a defender as Crown went in just ahead at the break. Nine new faces in the second-half meant Crown took a while to settle and Asia Euro University took advantage at a corner to head an unchallenged equaliser. Following a Reo Nakamura shot that went high and wide, a fumble by Yok Ary, as a long ball into his area caused some hesitation, allowed AEU to capitalise and go ahead on 69 minutes. Crown made more changes and had the best two remaining chances of the game. First, Newton Katanha was all alone at the far post as he met Seut Baraing's inch-perfect cross, but the experienced striker headed over when he seemed odds-on to score. With two minutes remaining, another Baraing delivery saw Morslim in an identical position to Katanha, and the outcome was the same, as Morslim sent his header over the cross-bar. Guilt-edges chances squandered and Crown lost this practice match 2-1.

PPCFC v AEU: Yaty (Ary 46), Da (Sovann 64), Pheng (Baraing 46), Sarak (Boris 46), Sokheng, Chanpolin (Sothy 46), Suhana (Pisa 46), Makara (Oliveira 46 (Sodavid 75)), Morslim (Sosela 46 (Senteang 75)), Kim (Nakamura 46 (Morslim 69)), Bisan (Katanha 46 (K Chhaya 75)). Bookings: None. Goal: Morslim (8).   
PPCFC v AEU 2nd half, back Row, LtoR: Sokheng, Pisa, Oliveira, Katanha, Sothy, Ary. Front: Sosela, Boris, Baraing, Da, Nakamura - click to enlarge

Svay Rieng crushed

PPCFC v Svay Rieng 1st half, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Kim, Pheng, Bisan, Srin, Yaty. Front Row: Borey, Boris, Suhana, Makara, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 5 Svay Rieng 1 (Friendly).
Crown ran riot in the first-half of their practice match with Svay Rieng this afternoon at RSN Stadium. In intense heat with an early afternoon kick-off, Phnom Penh Crown took the game to their opponents and took the lead after just six minutes. Khim Borey, who moments earlier had fired wide, slid in George Bisan and as the keeper came out, he rolled the ball under him to open the scoring. Sou Yaty was alert to save low down before another Borey cross saw Jeong Ho Kim send a diving header two feet wide. On 17 minutes that man Bisan was again on target with his second goal. Ngoy Srin sent over a high cross to the far post where Bisan's initial header was blocked but he reacted first to fire home the loose ball as it fell, ten yards out. Just two minutes later, Crown added another wound as a quick break saw Bisan's pass allow Borey to cut inside and unleash an unstoppable 25-yard screamer that struck the crossbar before hitting the net with venom. Kim was set up by Bisan but blazed his shot over the top close close-in and another Borey dipping drive was punched to safety by the Svay Rieng keeper. The high intensity that Crown maintained for the opening thirty minutes was simply too hot for their opponents to handle. However, they were offered a lifeline on 35 minutes when Odion Obadin's back pass fell short and Sou Yaty was beaten for the jump as Svay Rieng grabbed a consolation. Yaty was again in the right place to produce a good stop as Crown took a few minutes to regain their composure. Borey broke clear and fed Bisan but his powerful shot smashed into the face of a Svay Rieng defender, before Crown's South Korean import, Kim added to the opposition's woes. On 42 minutes Borey's bye-line cross was touched on by Bisan to Kim, whose first shot was blocked but he was not to be denied as he forced the ball over the goal-line. With Crown making a few changes, one of the new arrivals, Sraing Titchhy crossed and as the ball was cleared to Bisan, he let fly with a first-time low drive from outside the box that gave him a first-half hat-trick, two minutes before the break. A raft of Crown changes followed at half-time with only Obadin retaining his place in defence as they looked to extend their 5-1 lead. Within three minutes of the restart, Titchhy was doubly unlucky as his first drive struck the foot of the upright and his follow-up header slammed against the other post. Yok Ary was rounded on 65 minutes but the Svay Rieng striker missed the gaping open goal, and the Crown keeper was alert to a 25-yard drive a minute later. In an otherwise even second-half, Reo Nakamura crossed for Neou Sosela to volley across the face of the goal with the final chance of the match. 

PPCFC v Svay Rieng: Yaty (Ary 46), Srin (Dara 20), Pheng (Pisa 46), Boris (Sarak 46), Obadin, Sokumpheak (Sothy 42), Suhana (Nakamura 46), Borey (Titchhy 43), Makara (Sosela 46), Kim (Katanha 46), Bisan (Oliveira 44). Booking: Sosela. MOTM: Bisan, in unstoppable form. Goals: Bisan 3 (6, 16, 43), Borey (19), Kim (42).
PPCFC 2nd half, back Row, LtoR: Obadin, Sarak, Oliveira, Pisa, Katanha, Ary. Front: Sothy, Sosela, Titchhy, Dara, Nakamura - click to enlarge

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2nd Round games confirmed

We have been waiting for confirmation of Phnom Penh Crown's 2nd Round fixtures in the Metfone C-League and they have finally arrived. Yet another break, of a month's duration, slots in between the end of the 1st Round and the 2nd - no reason is given, even though we are currently on a break and will have another next month as well.
Here are the remaining fixtures of the 1st Round, and the 2nd Round matches as well, which are a mirror-image of the first round:
Sat 29 Mar v TriAsia PP - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 5 Apr v National Police - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 26 Apr v NagaCorp - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 17 May v Svay Rieng - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 24 May v Western Uni - 3.45pm at Army Stadium.
2nd Round:
Sun 22 Jun v AEU - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sun 29 Jun v Army - 3.30pm at Olympic Stadium
Sun 6 Jul v Kirivong - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sun 13 Jul v BBU - 3.30pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 19 Jul v Boeung Ket - 3.30pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 26 Jul v Albirex Niigata - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 2 Aug v TriAsia PP - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 9 Aug v National Police - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 16 Aug v NagaCorp - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 23 Aug v Svay Rieng - 6pm at Olympic Stadium
Sat 30 Aug v Western Uni - 3.45 at Army Stadium.

Naga lose the plot

Fun and games in the third place play-off for the Hun Sen Cup on Wednesday. I didn't go so missed all the shenanigans but it sounds like NagaCorp completely lost the plot at an injury-time penalty award in favour of Boeung Ket by referee Lim Bunthoeun. Temperatures were high anyway after a see-saw game which was pegged at 3-3 when Bunthoeun caused the uproar, just as everyone assumed the game was heading into extra time. Naga objected, very strongly by the pictures I've seen, and refused to allow Boeung Ket to take the penalty, standing between the penalty spot and the goal-line. The referee retreated and after fifteen minutes of time-wasting, he blew his whistle to end the game. Match result 3-3 but of course Naga quite rightly deserve to forfeit the match because of their unprofessional behaviour. Player power cannot be allowed to influence matches. Earlier in the game Boeung Ket were guilty of similar histrionics when Naga were awarded a penalty and Touch Pancharong was seen to push the referee in the chest. No action was taken. Bunthoeun isn't one of the country's most experienced referees, having been on the panel a relatively short time and will now be in Naga's bad books for the rest of his career. As for Naga, the FFC should fine them heavily and warn their players and management that this cannot happen again. In fact it has happened already, when Naga threatened to walk off in a game against Phnom Penh Crown three years ago. The FFC have got to take decisive action to warn clubs about this type of behaviour which clearly brings the game into disrepute. There have been a series of similar incidents over the last few years and its got to stop. Now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HIV Awareness Campaign

The PPCFC squad and staff with the HIV Awareness message
Phnom Penh Crown is proud to have been chosen as a key partner along with the SALT Academy, the Football Federation of Cambodia and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, as well as the Asian Development Bank, Asian Football Confederation and UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Program on HIV) to work together on a football-based HIV prevention program that will help tackle the risk of HIV transmission amongst young people in 5 countries (Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines). Communication and education about the dangers of HIV/AIDS transmission is so important that PPCFC is wholly committed to take part in this campaign to enhance awareness of HIV, improve access to HIV prevention and treatment and eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination in advance of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The goal is to reach ‘Three Zeros’, namely Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. The PPCFC senior squad and staff support the campaign message: 'Get tested, know your status, protect yourself, be a role model and no discrimination.'

Monday, March 10, 2014

Community engagement

PPCFC players and schoolboys enjoying their afternoon
Phnom Penh Crown undertook their latest community engagement project at 3G this afternoon, as they joined forces with Chevrolet and SALT Academy to officially launch the One World Futbol into Cambodia. Its the second event they've held but this was the 'official' one - which will see Chevrolet donate 5,800 of these nearly indestructible futbols to schools and organisations around Cambodia, including 15 schools in Phnom Penh. The distribution of the futbols will be through Crown and the SALT Academy, who operate out of Battambang. For today's event, two elementary schools in Phnom Penh supplied 80 young boys to play with the futbols, aided and abetted by the whole of the Phnom Penh Crown senior squad. After the press conference, the boys got down to playing the games and prizes were awarded to the top five teams in each of the two groups. Everyone had fun thanks to the organisation by the Crown staff and the local Chevrolet dealership.

Favourites fall from grace

It all went tits-up for the favourites in yesterday's Hun Sen Cup semi-finals. Boeung Ket and NagaCorp were already thinking about next Saturday's final, or so it appeared, judging by their ineffectual performances against their lesser-fancied opponents. Build Bright United had already shown with their win over Phnom Penh Crown a few days before, that they can spring a surprise, and they did it again as they took the game to the Rubbermen from the start. Despite a few near misses for Boeung Ket, including a long range effort from Chan Vathanaka that struck the crossbar, BBU were more than a match for the competition faves. The quality of football by both teams was disappointing, as it was in the second semi-final, though the pitch at the Olympic Stadium is not exactly conducive to a free-flowing passing style. BBU's winner came from Prum Putsethy, with an over-the-shoulder hit and hope that befuddled Peng Bunchhay and proved to be the game's only highlight, moments before the interval. Under the floodlights, National Police showed their battling qualities as they dug deep to inflict an extra-time 1-goal win over NagaCorp. Again, the football on offer wouldn't win any prizes for excellence, but Police won't mind a jot and it took a typical Tith Dina shot, through a crowd of legs, to settle this semi-final. So a far-from-expected cup final line-up next Saturday, under lights, as BBU meet Police, kick-off 5.30pm. The losing teams will meet in the 3rd place play-off on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

TriAsia a bit too strong

PPCFC U-16s, back row, LtoR: Chanpolin, Sovann, Senteang, Chanvuthy, Titchhy, K Chhaya. Front: Baraing, Rozak, Piphop, Chansopheak, Noeut - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 1 TriAsia 'B' 3 (Friendly).
The Academy U-16s gave a good account of themselves this morning at RSN Stadium against a strong TriAsia B team that included first-team regulars after the break. The older Academy boys are gearing themselves up for the Asia Champions Trophy which begins in May, with a series of matches against adult opposition. In their last meeting, TriAsia B won the encounter 8-0. Today's game was very different. The Academy started brightly with Kim Chhaya sending a low drive goalwards before a mazy Sraing Titchhy run was ended when his shot was blocked. In a lightning move, Suon Noeut's wayward pass was whipped forward by TriAsia and they headed in the opening goal on 13 minutes. They nearly repeated it on the half hour when Men Piphop was tackled and Kung Chanvuthy stopped the shot with his feet. As the first-half came to a close, Titchhy crossed for Chhuot Senteang to fire a shot agonizingly close and then Noeut tried a curler from the edge of the area which the TriAsia keeper held onto at full stretch. Seven minutes after the break, Titchhy found himself in space at the far post but blazed his shot into the side netting. Chanvuthy made another good stop with his feet from Japanese import Kazuaki Ban, but was powerless to prevent Friday Nwakuna waltzing in TriAsia's second goal on 67 minutes. A minute later, Crown caught their opponents napping as Mat Nuron controlled neatly and poked the ball over the top for Senteang to run on and lob the TriAsia keeper with ease, to make it 2-1. However, a slack clearance by Chanvuthy gave the advantage back to TriAsia and they made Crown pay with a third and decisive goal on 72 minutes. A hard-working performance from the Academy youngsters against the physically stronger full-timers, who beefed up their line-up after the break to make sure of the win.

PPCFC v TriAsia B: Chanvuthy, Chansopheak, K Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Rozak (Sakrovy 62), Piphop (Ponvuthy 77), Titchhy (Nuro 65n), Noeut, Senteang (Phearath 87). Subs not used: Muslim, T Chhaya, Chanchav, V Samnang. MOTM: Baraing. Goal: Senteang (68).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crown on top of the Academies

PPCFC line-up, back row, LtoR: N David, Chanmony, Saphy, Rafat, Sovannaroth, Samnang. Front: Kakada, Piseth, S David, Pisoth, Samel - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-14s 4 FFC Academy U-14s 1 (Friendly).
Invited to play the Federation's new Academy team at their Tonle Bati headquarters, the younger Crown Academy boys offered up a footballing lesson for large parts of this match, played over 4x25 minute quarters, and will feel they should've won by a more convincing margin. The FFC youngsters  showed some nice touches but were devoid of a striking threat for much of the game. At the other end, Crown had a hatful of chances, which they failed to take, with Mao Piseth and Tong Chanmony sharing the majority of misses between them. Chanmony struck the post early on before the FFC boys took an 18th minute lead against the run of play with a bizarre own goal. Yoe Saphy struck a 40-yard back-pass to his own keeper and Kong Rafat, looking up to see who to pass to, allowed the ball to squirm under his foot and roll agonizingly across the goal-line. Red faces all around. Despite pretty much one way traffic in favour of Crown, and Piseth hitting the upright from wide right, it stayed 1-nil to the hosts until four minutes into the second quarter. Piseth picked up a rebound from San David's shot and poked it home. Soon after, the tricky ball-player weaved his way around half a dozen defenders but his shot was saved by the FFC keeper Bunnou. On 67 minutes, Nop David broke from midfield and crashed the ball in from fifteen yards for Crown's third, while Piseth was guilty of over-elaborating with a handful of great chances. In a rare break, the home team also struck the post. Four minutes into the fourth quarter, Piseth was rolled in by San David and this time he made no mistake. With five minutes remaining, Sin Kakada hammered a shot through a crowd of bodies for Crown's fourth. There was still time for Chanmony to lash a shot against the cross-bar. Ros Dara Pich, one of Crown's community youngsters was given game time with the Academy team for this match.
PPCFC U-14s v FFC: Rafat, Sovannaroth, Samel, Saphy, Samnang (Pich 86), N David (Kakada 49), S David, Pisoth, Chanmony, Kakada (Pich 42 (N David 51)), Piseth. MOTM: San David - tigerish performance and neat control. Goals: Piseth (29, 79 ), N David (67), Kakada (95).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cup Fever

Going out at the quarter-final stage after yesterdays Hun Sen Cup matches were Phnom Penh Crown, Svay Rieng, Army and Kirivong. Going through to Sunday's semi-finals are BBU, Boeung Ket (or is it Beoung Ket, they can't decide), National Police and NagaCorp.

So how did the QFs pan out? As we know, BBU sprang the biggest surprise by scoring the only goal of the game at the Old Stadium. Rim Bunheang's free-kick just before half-time did the damage though Crown will feel aggrieved on many fronts, not least their own woeful finishing. Over at Cheng Meng, the Police put paid to Army hopes with a 2-1 win. Still no idea why the game was moved over to Cheng Meng, miles out of the city. At the Olympic Stadium, Naga scraped through with a Teab Vathanak goal downing Kirivong under the lights. In the earlier game, Boeung Ket smacked Svay Rieng 5-1 with all five goals scored by different players. Prak Mony Udom netted Svay Rieng's consolation. In Sunday's semi-finals, BBU will meet Boeung Ket (3.30pm) and National Police take on NagaCorp (6pm) at Olympic Stadium.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crown crash out

PPCFC v BBU, back row, LtoR: Yaty, Suhana, Makara, Boris, Srin, Sokumpheak. Front Row: Da, Boran, Sothy, Pheng, Borey - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 0 BBU 1 (Hun Sen Cup Quarter-Final).
Expectations were high in the Crown camp as they faced Build Bright United, who they beat 5-0 in the league a couple of weeks earlier, for this Hun Sen Cup quarter-final tie, played at the Old Stadium. With no foreign involvement in this Khmer-only competition, also missing was midfield ace Bin Thierry with an ankle injury. In a match that was interrupted by referee Khuon Virak's whistle from the very beginning, the opening stages failed to ignite the sizeable crowd with Leng Makara heading over with Crown's first real attempt, while Sou Yaty fumbled a 40-yard free-kick by Rim Bunheang, only to recover the ball at the second attempt. After twenty minutes, Sos Suhana's dart into the penalty area was ended as he was upended from behind by Thai Phalla but Virak adjudged it not worthy of a penalty. Everyone watching disagreed. BBU were given more free-kick opportunities by the match referee with Yaty punching one away from danger, while Makara sent another header wide at the other end. Eight minutes before the break, BBU saw their best chance go begging as Phlong Chanthou blasted the ball against the cross-bar after yet another free-kick, feel at his feet. Khim Borey broke quickly and his cross was turned behind as Crown pressed, while Ouk Sothy's byeline center hit Makara and bounced to safety. With a minute to go of normal time, Virak awarded a free-kick against Kok Boris twenty-three yards from goal. Video replays show there was no contact whatsoever. Bunheang got his angles spot-on and curled the ball around the wall and out of Yaty's reach for the opening goal of the cup tie. On the stroke of half-time, Makara ballooned Crown's easiest opportunity over the bar, when Kouch Sokumpheak's corner was touched on by Suhana after BBU keeper Sos Proshim fumbled, but the striker missed the target from a few yards out. 

A minute after the restart, Chanthou appeared to push Sokumpheak as they challenged for the ball inside the BBU penalty area, but again Virak was having none of it. Play on. A dangerous two-footed tackle on Borey by Noun Phanith only merited a yellow, and Sokumpheak curled the free-kick just over the top. Another free-kick for Borey, went past the near post, and both Sokumpheak and Makara sent headers wide of the target. With twenty minutes to go, Neou Sosela, on as a sub, pounced on a loose ball after Sokumpheak and Proshim had tangled on the edge of the area, but the winger found the cross-bar instead of the gaping goal and a certain leveller was gone. It was all Crown at this stage, with BBU killing the game by persistently falling over and calling for the stretcher-bearers. Sokumpheak cut in from a short corner but his aim was wayward, and his header from Touch Sokheng's cross went straight into the arms of Proshim. As the 4th official posted six minutes of injury time, Sokheng sent a good chance harmlessly wide and as Crown searched in vain, they were caught by a breakaway only for Pech Sina to head wide with the goal at his mercy. The final whistle arrived and the look on the faces of the Crown players said it all. An inglorious end to their Hun Sen Cup hopes for the season. 

Head coach Sam Schweingruber's after-match verdict: "I'm very disappointed with the result but also with the performance. In midfield we were never sorted out, way too many long balls, turning the ball over and we certainly missed Thierry in the middle, keeping possession, switching play and patiently building-up. Very disappointed with how the referee saw the game, but that's the 2nd thought. The first thought is the disappointment with the team performance. Missing an empty goal, we should've scored a sitter right before halftime, and we hit the crossbar with an open goal in the 2nd half. Those are key moments when you have to score. Their goal was not a foul at all. It was about the sixth free kick given but I didn't see anything wrong. I haven't looked at the video, but for me nothing wrong with the challenges at all. How the referee can give 6-7 free kicks from similar positions, again and again, I didn't see a foul, and believe the referee saw what he wanted to see happening and it resulted in a goal. A couple of situations in the game where I'm very disappointed with how the ref viewed things. In particular Suhana's dart into the box, from my perspective it looked like a foul, but not given. These things change games. Now we must get them back on their feet. Give the boys a few days off to get over the disappointment and then look at ways to come back even stronger and focus on the league." 
PPCFC v BBU: Yaty, Pheng, Da (Tola 84), Srin, Boris, Sothy, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Sokheng 80), Makara, Boran (Sosela 59), Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Sarak, Tola, Sosela, Dara, Phearun, Sokheng, Morslim, Pisa. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sokumpheak - gave 110%.
Kouch Sokumpheak (10) leads out PPCFC before the Hun Sen Sup tie

Sunday, March 2, 2014

No change at the top

The top spot after the weekend's games continued to be taken by Phnom Penh Crown after their 4-1 win over the bottom dwellers of Albirex Niigata, who already look destined to suffer relegation in their first season, bar a miracle. Now wouldn't that be embarrassing for the Metfone C-League's new arrivals from Japan. Their defeat under floodlights at Olympic Stadium on Saturday was their sixth straight reversal. The earlier game at Olympic the same afternoon went the way of AEU, who took a three goal lead into the interval but had to hang on at the end as BBU came storming back, only to go down 3-2 at the death. Egyptian newcomer Mohamed Hamza scored the first and set up the second for Chhang Hai before Nigerian George Kelechi sprinted through to send AEU ahead and in control. The comeback came through Richard Omokafe and Chan Chaya but despite AEU going down to 10-men at the end, the clash of the universities went to Asia Euro. Over at the Army Stadium, Kirivong drew 0-0 with Army, while TriAsia went down to their second straight defeat, losing by a solitary Sun Sovannrithy penalty to second-placed NagaCorp. Boeung Ket shunted Western Uni aside on Sunday at Olympic, 2-0 with a goal in each half for Khuon Laboravy and sub Chan Vathanaka. The more interesting fixture came under the lights on Sunday. National Police had their keeper Yasuyuki Yoshida dismissed on 9 minutes for handball outside the area, though the linesman had missed an offside, and Svay Rieng netted through the free-kick from Prak Mony Udom. Noun Borey levelled on the stroke of half-time via another direct free-kick strike for the 10-man team. Ol Ravy struck the cross-bar twice for the Police after the break, as they refused to settle for a point and though they lost another body to a red card, this time Ieng Tin for a tackle that nearly sliced his opponent in half, they held on with 9 men for the last fifteen minutes for a point.

Tidy win for Academy

PPCFC U-16s. Back row, LtoR: Chanpolin, Sovann, Baraing, Sodavid, Senteang, Samnang. Front Row: Phearath, Noeut, Chansopheak, Piphop, Chhaya - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC Academy U-16s 5 Chamkarmon FC 1 (Friendly).
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy are building up for their Asia Champions U-16 Trophy matches that begin in May with a series of games against adult teams. The latest saw them face to face with Chamkarmon, one of the local Phnom Penh-based teams that took part in the group stages of the Hun Sen Cup. Playing at their RSN pitch, Crown dominated from the start, they were a yard faster and their passing slicker as Men Piphop had a shot stopped on the goal-line after a minute. Ouk Sovann sent a free-kick a few inches over the bar and Orn Chanpolin weaved through a melee only to see his shot saved. Against the run of play, Chamkarmon scored on 26 minutes with a neat passing move but Crown replied two minutes later with the equaliser. The referee blew for a free-kick on the edeg of the are instead of a penalty kick, but it didn't matter as Sovann curled the dead-ball strike into the top corner. At the start of the 2nd half, Crown's Suon Noeut wasted two great opportunities, as did Chhuot Senteang but they were not to be denied the lead they deserved. On the hour mark, Kim Chhaya moved up from full-back to unleash an unstoppable 20-yard drive that seared into the net. Three minutes later Mat Nuron sent Senteang free and he calmly lobbed the ball over the keeper's head for 3-1. A series of substitutions didn't disrupt Crown's rhythm and on 78 minutes, Yeu Muslim raced clear from the half-way line from Seut Baraing's pass and slotted home. In the 2nd minute of time added on, the impressive Sath Rozak was upended and Sovann completed the 5-1 rout with another of his curling free-kick specials. Quite simply, a masterful performance by the Academy U-16s.
PPCFC U-16s v Chamkarmon: Samnang, Chansopheak, Phearath (Chhaya 46), Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin (Chanchav 77), Sodavid (Sakrovy 74), Noeut (Muslim 77), Piphop (Rozak 35), Chhaya (Nuron 10 (V Samnang 81)), Senteang (Titchhy 71). Sub not used. Chanvuthy. MOTM: Sovann - two stunning free-kicks. Goals: Sovann (28, 92), Chhaya (60), Senteang (63), Muslim (78).
The previous day, Saturday, the Academy U-14s team met Prek Taten High School from Kandal on the RSN pitch and drew 2-2 with the Academy goals scored by Nop David and Mao Piseth.

Olympic Stadium dangers

Some of the items found on the Olympic Stadium playing surface yesterday
The football authorities in this country don't do anything to help themselves. The Olympic Stadium is the no 1 pitch in the country, apparently. The groundsmen recently added some soil on top of the grass to a few areas which were a bit bare. Unfortunately they didn't check the quality of the soil first, or even afterwards. And no officials checked the pitch either. During warm-up before yesterday's game, these items, including glass, ceramics and iron shards were picked up from the pitch. This was just the first handful, we picked up a lot more. And we didn't have time to check the other 75% of the pitch. Obviously, these items can cause injury and what we found is a dereliction of duty of the first order. The match official we handed them to simply shrugged his shoulders. My first call would've been for the groundsmen to conduct a sweep of the pitch before the match started. Fat chance of that happening.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

First-half rout

PPCFC v Albirex, back row, LtoR: Katanha, Boris, Kim, Thierry, Bisan, Sokumpheak. Front Row: Srin, Da, Pheng, Borey, Yaty - click to enlarge
Result: PPCFC 4 Albirex Niigata 1 (Metfone C-League).
Phnom Penh Crown coach Sam Schweingruber was without Odion Obadin (suspended) and Sos Suhana and Neou Sosela (injured) for this top versus bottom Metfone C-League clash at the Olympic Stadium this afternoon. The first half accurately reflected the two teams positions in the table with Crown completely dominating possession and chances for the opening forty-five minutes. The second-half was a different story with Schweingruber opting for a formation change at half-time that failed to work though Crown still ended the game well on top to claim the three points and remain in first place. Hong Pheng had the first attempt on goal after a minute but blazed high and wide. With nine minutes on the clock, Crown took their expected lead with Pheng's cross field pass finding Khim Borey, and he took the ball on a few yards before sending in a low drive from the edge of the box that found the bottom of the far corner. It was his 11th goal of the season. Another Borey effort was deflected wide for a corner and from that set piece, Bin Thierry cut in from the flank and thundered in a dipping 25-yard effort that eluded everyone including the Albirex goalkeeper. Sixteen minutes gone and a reward for a player who completed sixty passes out of an attempted sixty-nine throughout the match. Five minutes later and Newton Katanha smacked a 20-yard shot over the top. Within sixty seconds the Zimbabwe striker was holding his head in his hands after he touched a Pheng cross goalwards, it hit the keeper, and rolled the wrong side of the upright from two feet. But on 28 minutes he was smiling again. Lurking 30 yards from goal, a clearance landed at his feet and he let loose with a first-time arrowed drive that beat the keeper and nestled in the net for his third goal in as many games. Seconds later and Albirex spurned their only chance of the half when Kataoka Michimori broke free but sent his shot wide as Sou Yaty rushed out. On 32 minutes, Crown netted their fourth of the first half and it was a special moment for South Korean striker Jeong Ho Kim, starting a match for the first time. Another Pheng long pass found Borey in the box but his touch was too strong and the ball rolled to Kim on the edge of the area, who smashed an unstoppable cannonball strike into the roof of the net. Katanha sent a 30-yard free kick a few inches wide of the upright, Kim headed an inswinging Thierry free-kick into the keepers hands and George Bisan whistled a drive wide as half-time came with Crown in full control.

Schweingruber opted for a formation change at the break, with three at the back and two strikers up top and within fifty seconds, Bisan had sent a volley over the top after Ngoy Srin had set him up. But for the next 25 minutes that was it as far as the action was concerned. Albirex coped easily with Crown's tactical switch and pushed on themselves in search of a consolation goal. After Borey sent a diving header wide at the other end, Albirex managed to give Crown a headache when Michimori curled a free-kick from the edge of the area and despite getting a hand to it, Yaty couldn't keep it out. That came on 74 minutes. A minute later and Bisan slotted a perfect pass for Katanha to run onto but his shot was too central and Albirex keeper Mat Muslim gratefully saved. Desperate to kickstart his team into life, Katanha snatched the ball off a defender's toe and sent in a rasping 30-yard effort that rebounded back into play off the cross-bar. Tough luck on the striker. Kouch Sokumpheak took a pass from Borey in his stride but sent his effort over the top, before Katanha skimmed a header wide of the target at close range from Leng Makara's cross, when it seemed easier to score. In the closing stages, he had the ball in the net but the whistle had gone for offside and to add insult to injury, he was booked by the referee for time-wasting. It was that sort of day. Coach Sam Schweingruber's verdict; "We played really well in the 1st half, we could've scored more, the team did what I wanted and expected them to do. A couple of real cracking goals - played well, patient build-up, the things I'd asked they did, so quite happy with that. We changed formation at half time and tried something new. We thought we would try it today - we only tried it in training one time - and if it worked out, we could use it in the future. We can all see it didn't work, yet. Changed to 3-4-1-2 but it didn't work so we changed back again after 25 minutes."
PPCFC v Albirex: Yaty, Pheng, Da (Makara 46), Srin, Boris, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Borey, Kim (Pisa 86), Bisan (Tola 78), Katanha. Subs not used: Ary, Sarak, Sothy, Dara, Sokheng, Boran, Morslim, Titchhy. Bookings: Srin, Bisan, Katanha. MOTM: Thierry - great goal and 60 passes out of 69 completed. Goals: Borey (9), Thierry (16), Katanha (28), Kim (32).