Wednesday, April 30, 2014

C-League round-up

With Phnom Penh Crown and NagaCorp, in first and second places in the Metfone C-League standings, facing off against each other on Saturday, and drawing 1-1, there was no change at the top of the leaderboard. Especially after Boeung Ket's shock 1-nil defeat to Kirivong on Sunday. It was Kirivong's first win of the season and came courtesy of a Touch Pancharong own goal. The Crown v Naga affair was a tight game though Naga missed a second-half penalty when Sun Sovannrithy blasted over the top. Choun Chum opened the scoring for Naga and Leng Makara levelled for Crown. Another unexpected result was AEU's 2-0 win over TriAsia, no-one saw that coming and the clubs swap places in the league table, with AEU moving into seventh spot. On Saturday BBU moved into the top four momentarily with their 1-0 win over Svay Rieng, thanks to a goal from Rim Bunhieng, but National Police's 4-3 battering of Western Uni on Sunday, moved them into that spot. Police's Noun Borey netted twice to take him to six goals, joint top scorer in the MCL with a few others including George Bisan and Khuon Laboravy. The Army made Albirex Niigata pay for sloppy defensive play, winning 4-1 on Saturday and keep Albirex at the bottom.

Two of the MCL coaches have parted ways with their teams in recent days. Tep Longrachana, the coach at Kirivong, has walked away from the club, who recently slashed their playing staff, retaining just one of their foreign contingent. Without him, Kirivong won their first match of the season on Sunday, against Boeung Ket. Longrachana was in charge of the Army team for a few years before linking up with the Takeo-based side. Over at Western Uni, former BBU coach Meas Samoeurn has left the club by mutual consent, having taken over at the start of this season. Western lie one place off the relegation zone.

Svay Rieng have arrived in Ulaanbator, Mongolia ahead of their qualifying group stage of the AFC Presidents Cup. On Thursday 1 May they will face the hosts, Erchim and then on 3 May they meet the Nepalese champions, Manang Marshyangdi. Two teams from the qualifying group will go forward to the final stages in September, so Svay Rieng, on paper, have a great opportunity to qualify, even though their league form has been pretty haphazard so far this season. The other two group stages, being played in Sri Lanka and Philippines, will kick-off next week. Svay Rieng have also confirmed they will participate in this season's RHB Singapore Cup.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eleven goal thriller

PPCFC Academy U-16s v CMAC, back row, LtoR: Titchhy, Morslim, Chanchav, Dara, Da, Chanvuthy. Front: Ponvuthy, V Samnang, Pisa, Phearath, Rozak - click to enlarge
Match Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 6 CMAC 5 (Friendly).
Eleven goals in this friendly game at RSN Stadium said a lot about the defences of both teams - they were clearly not at their best! The Crown Academy included four of the younger senior squad members and it was one of them, Ly Morslim who opened the scoring after 7 minutes when he cashed in on a poor back-pass. CMAC, who are talking about a crack at Division 1A football later this year, equalised on 22 minutes after Sraing Titchhy had a shot saved at the foot of the post. After the goal, Morslim robbed the keeper and struck the foot of the post. Cashing in on some sloppy defending, CMAC scored two goals in a minute and a half, though sandwiched in between was a great run by Titchhy, who let rip with a drive that cannoned back off the cross-bar. A minute before the break, CMAC went further in front after a defensive slip, though Crown made it 2-4 at the interval when Morslim fed Thourng Da, 25 yards from goal, and he sent a left-foot screamer into the top corner. Chhom Pisa pulled another goal back three minutes after the restart, finishing off a Da pass with precision, but CMAC came straight back and cashed in on a long ball over the top just two minutes later. Titchhy smacked another shot against the woodwork, Svang Samnang saved a CMAC break with his feet and Pov Ponvuthy could've done better in a one-on-one, before Pisa swept past three players and slotted home with ease on 61 minutes. He wasn't finished either. Just four minutes later, he sent a dipping, rasping drive over the keeper's head for the equaliser at 5-5. It was all Crown at this stage, with Titchhy and Morslim, at least twice, going close before an inspired substitution sent on 14-year-old Mao Piseth for the last few minutes and he grabbed the Crown winner with five minutes remaining. It was a tap-in after Sath Rozak's shot went through the keeper's hands, struck the post and rolled across the goal-line. Piseth added the all-important final touch. 6-5 to Crown and a quite breathless match to watch, let alone play in.

PPCFC U-16s v CMAC: Chanvuthy (S Samnang 33), Da, Phearath, Dara, Chanchav, Rozak (V Samnang 87), Ponvuthy (Piseth 83), Titchhy, V Samnang (T Chhaya 48), Pisa (Sakrovy 80), Morslim. MOTM: Pisa - for his hat-trick. Goals: Morslim (7), Da (45), Pisa 3 (48, 61, 65), Piseth (85).

A Sovann special

PPCFC v TriAsia, back row, LtoR: Mesa, Senteang, Chanpolin, K Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann. Front: Nuron, Muslim, Piphop, Chansopheak, Sodavid - click to enlarge
Match Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 1 TriAsia PP 'B' 1 (Friendly).
The older U-16s Academy team played two matches, back to back, at RSN Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In the first, they faced TriAsia 'B', who fielded the players who didn't take part in their league match on Saturday. Crown started slowly and TriAsia made them pay for their rustiness, opening the scoring in the third minute, and cashing in on some sloppy defensive passing. A good lesson to learn for the Crown side, due to start their Asia Champions Trophy matches next month. After Kim Chhaya sent a free-kick fizzing just over the top, Sem Mesa, who recently rejoined the Academy from Svay Rieng, was on his toes to make a couple of saves before In Sodavid fed Mat Nuron and his drive was tipped over the bar by the TriAsia keeper. Another good stop by Mesa at the feet of an onrushing striker, then saw Men Piphop blast a great opportunity for the leveller wide of the target from just ten yards out, as the half-time whistle blew. Nuron sent another shot fizzing wide from the restart before a trademark free-kick special from Ouk Sovann saw Crown right back in the match, just eleven minutes after the break. Yeu Muslim was felled and Sovann stepped up, twenty yards from goal and flighted the ball over the wall and inside the near post to make it 1-1. He's earning himself quite a reputation for his dead-ball strikes on goal. Mesa was in the right spot again to deny TriAsia a point-blank header, while Seut Baraing burst into the opposition box to set up Muslim, but he screwed his shot over the bar. Baraing ventured forward again but his shot was held low down before Kim Chhaya sent a rasping shot inches wide. It stayed at 1-1.

PPCFC U-16s v TriAsia: Mesa, Chansopheak, K Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Piphop, Muslim (Rozak 83), Nuron (Titchhy 83), Senteang. MOTM: Mesa. Goal: Sovann (56).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

One-sided affair

PPCFC U-14s, back row, LtoR: Chanmony, Saphy, Sovannaroth, Rafat, Panha, N David. Front; Piseth, Pisoth, S David, Samel, Kakada - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-14s 8 Football Federation Academy U-14s 1 (Friendly).
Crown's younger Academy players at U-14 met the FFC's same age Academy this afternoon at RSN Stadium and ran out comprehensive winners. The two teams played against each other in March and Crown won that game 4-1. Without a recognised goalkeeper, the FFC team loaned two goalkeepers to play in the 4x25 minute periods, Sem Mesa and Kung Chanvuthy. Mao Piseth opened the scoring in the 3rd minute after robbing a defender and slotting the ball past Mesa. Two minutes later, Piseth fed Tong Chanmony and he netted with a cheeky chip. Sin Kakada registered the third on 18 minutes when he took advantage of a misplaced back-pass. A couple of minutes later, Kong Rafat in the Crown goal handed the FFC a lifeline with a poor kick out, and the scoreline at the end of the first period was 3-1 to the home team. Only one goal in the second period came courtesy of Mat Sakrovy, on as a sub, who collected a kick out by Mesa and returned it with interest on 43 minutes. The third quarter piled on the pressure for the FFC team, battling to keep the score down. On 67 minutes, Piseth pinched the ball off a defender and slotted home, while Lim Pisoth squeezed a pass through to Chnmony and he netted on 72 minutes. Six minutes later, Piseth scored his hat-trick goal after a good run from Kakada. It was one-way traffic though Svang Samnang was called upon to make a rare save. In the final quarter and with FFC flagging, Pov Ponvuthy went close, Kakada hit the cross-bar and Sakrovy added the 8th goal for Crown after Nop David had broke into the box and set him up on 100 minutes. One-way traffic for much of the game, which merely emphasized the gap between the two teams. 
PPCFC U-14s v FFC: Rafat (S David 91), Panha (Samel 51), Samel (Ponvuthy 26 (S Samnang 51), Saphy, Sovannaroth, N David, S David (Panha 76), Chanmony (Ponvuthy 76 (Sakrovy 91), Pisoth (Sakrovy 26 (Pisoth 51)), Kakada, Piseth. MOTM: Piseth - hat-trick and dazzling feet. Goals: Piseth 3 (3, 67, 78), Chanmony 2 (5, 72), Kakada (18), Sakrovy 2 (44, 100).

Top 2 share points

PPCFC v Naga back row, LtoR: Obadin, Makara, Boris, Bisan, Srin, Yaty. Front: Sothy, Pheng, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Borey - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 NagaCorp 1 (Metfone C-League).
This evening's eagerly-awaited top-of-the-table league clash ended all-square as the country's top two teams battled for a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium under floodlights. With injury robbing Crown of Bin Thierry and suspension ruling out Jeongho Kim, coach Sam Schweingruber was pleased to be able to include Odion Obadin and Kok Boris after injury scares. His team did most of the early pressing with Hong Pheng firing harmlessly into the side netting and George Bisan trying his luck from 25 yards out, that cleared the cross-bar by a whisker. Naga's first foray forward saw Barry Lelouma dazzle Pheng with his quick feet and get a shot in on goal which Sou Yaty palmed aside. Bisan and Ouk Sothy combined well but the latter's long range effort sailed a few yards over the top, and another long distance drive by Pheng bounced before it reached Samrith Seiha, forcing the Naga stopper to push it out for a corner. Just after the half hour, Lelouma cut inside and fizzed a shot a few yards wide and in their next attack, Naga took the lead. Crown lost possession cheaply and were made to pay as Choun Chum cut in from the right wing and curled a sweet strike wide of Yaty's fingertips and inside the far post on 39 minutes. Stung into action, Crown's Sos Suhana had the ball taken off his toe at the other end of the pitch moments later and then blasted an effort over the bar from 25 yards, in the last real action of the opening half.

With the half-time talk from their coach ringing in their ears, Crown came out blazing in the second half and almost immediately Kouch Sokumpheak connected with a Khim Borey free-kick but his volley crashed into the body of Om Thavrak and was cleared. A poor Yaty clearance was lobbed well wide by Chum, but in their next move, Crown were right back into the match with the equaliser. A poor challenge by Thavrak on Bisan allowed Borey to send one of his curling free-kicks into the Naga box and with three Crown players converging on the ball, Leng Makara caught it sweetly on the volley and gave Seiha no chance from six yards out. Eight minutes of the second-half played and Crown were level. With the bit between their teeth, Crown pushed on but suffered a blow when Kok Boris twisted his ankle as he saw the ball out of play with Chum challenging and was stretchered off, to be replaced by Touch Sokheng. Moments later captain Sokumpheak was cautioned for a harmless tackle and will miss the next league match. On 64 minutes, Crown boss Schweingruber was left scratching his head on the sidelines as to why his team were not in front. Pheng sent Bisan scampering clear and his low shot was deflected by Seiha's left hand though it looked certain that Makara would tap the ball over the goal-line, but with Sun Sovannrithy leaning on him, he touched it onto the cross-bar and the certain goal failed to materialize. Makara's claims that he was impeded fell on deaf ears. A Sokumpheak cross was turned back into the box by Makara but Sothy's volley was blocked as Naga stood firm. Yaty was at his athletic best to get his fingers to a Chum near post header from a corner, but was deemed to have rashly challenged Teab Vathanak as the striker chased a quick free-kick. Referee Tuy Vichheka pointed to the spot though video replays suggest Yaty made no contact with the striker, whose reputation for impersonating Luis Suarez is well-known. It took two minutes for Vathanak to receive treatment for his imaginary injury and then up stepped Sovannrithy to send the penalty kick into orbit, with 77 minutes on the clock - much to the delight of the noisy Crown supporters in the grandstand. As the ball was played upfield, Thavrak was guilty of a wicked lunge as Sokumpheak broke and will wonder himself how he didn't get shown a straight red card. Referee Vichheka was in a benevolent mood for sure and waited for Thavrak to receive treatment, for more imagined pain, and only flashed a yellow. With neither side able to fashion any more clearcut chances, apart from a Chum header which Yaty gathered cleanly, the match petered out despite the introduction of two Crown substitutes, thrown into the fray without the hoped for impact.

Schweingruber's immediate after-match views: "A difficult start, not what we hoped for. From there we got into the game but mainly with long range efforts. Their 35 was very dangerous and he pulled us apart for their goal, leaving 7 free to score. I'm really proud of my team how they came out after the break and tried to apply what I told them. First 20 minutes we had several good chances and did much better, including the equaliser. We should've had a penalty in my eyes, our striker was pushed in the back, but the referee didn't see it. Then the penalty against us was quite harsh I thought - I have to see it again. Going away with a point, after they missed a penalty late in the game, is a result we can live with. I'm still a bit disappointed that in the big games we are not playing as we want to play, and how I know we can play, in the key moments of the match. We need to put what we are capable of into these title-deciding games. A word of thanks to our fans today - their vocal support was fantastic. When they make as much noise as that, they can make a difference. They were brilliant."
PPCFC v NagaCorp: Yaty, Srin, Pheng, Boris (Sokheng 62), Obadin, Sothy, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Sosela 89), Makara (Oliveira 82), Borey, Bisan. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Da, Dara, Morslim, Pisa, Titchhy, Chanpolin. Bookings: Sokumpheak. MOTM: Sou Yaty - made important saves. Goal: Makara (54).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Academy downed by AEU

PPCFC v AEU, back row, LtoR: Titchhy, Sodavid, Senteang, Chanpolin, Sovann, Samnang. Front row: Piphop, Baraing, Chansopheak, Noeut, Phearath - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 1 AEU 3 (Friendly).
The Academy's preparation for their Asia Champions Trophy continued this afternoon at RSN Stadium against C-League side Asia Euro Univ. For two of the three 30-minute periods the U-16s more than held their own and should've really made their superior chances count. Men Piphop missed a good chance before AEU scored on 15 minutes with a simple ball over the top of the Academy defence. Sraing Titchhy scored but was flagged offside and Chhuot Senteang raced clear only to miscue his shot at the critical moment. After the first break, Mat Nuron was tackled as he shot on goal before Kim Chhaya equalised on 37 minutes, with a long range effort that sailed over the goalkeeper's head from all of 40 yards. He'd only been on the field for a few minutes. Chances went begging as Suon Noeut was denied by the AEU keeper, twice and Vat Samnang, Yeu Muslim, Noeut and Chhaya all had good opportunities that came to nothing. For the third period, AEU brought on their four foreign players, with Crown also ringing the changes, and that handed the advantage to AEU who made the Academy pay with two goals on 70 and 77 minutes. A rare defeat for the Academy but the type of challenge they need before their ACT matches next month.

PPCFC U-16s v AEU: S Samnang (Mesa 31 (Chanvuthy 61)), Chansopheak, Phearath (K Chhaya 31 (Senteang 74)), Baraing (Sovann 61), Sovann (Chanchav 31), Chanpolin (Rozak 31 (Ponvuthy 74)), Sodavid (T Chhaya 61), Piphop (V Samnang 31 (Phearath 74)), Noeut (Titchhy 61), Titchhy (Nuron 31 (Chanpolin 74), Senteang (Muslim 31 (Piphop 74)). Goal: K Chhaya (37).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Baldwin's hat-trick

Baldwin Ngwa, the Cameroon striker netted a hat-trick in 20 minutes
Netting a hat-trick within twenty minutes of your arrival on the pitch is as good a way of making your presence felt as any. That's exactly what Baldwin Ngwa Afa'nwi did when he appeared as a 60th minute substitute for Phnom Penh Crown in a friendly game against Albirex Niigata on Saturday. Ngwa had been training with Crown for a few days before the Khmer New Year break after finding himself without a club following an unsuccessful attempt to make his way into the Vietnam League. A leg injury hampered his progress in Vietnam and so he called in at Crown's RSN Stadium to keep fit. Now head coach Sam Schweingruber will have to decide if Ngwa is worth investing in for the second half of the season or whether the Cameroon-born striker heads off to look for new pastures. The 23 year old striker began life with clubs in his home country, with spells at Bamboutos Mbouda, Caiman and Tiko United before heading to the Kenyan premier division with Gor Mahia and then a couple of stints in the top Tunisia League with JS Kairouan, sandwiched between returning to Kenya with Western Stima and Rangers. Recovering from the injury that cut short his Vietnam adventure is his first priority and scoring a hat-trick in just twenty minutes of his first appearance isn't a bad way to do it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

One way traffic

PPCFC v Albirex, back row, LtoR: Sokheng, Borey, Sothy, Kim, Obadin, Srin. Front: Bisan, Pheng, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Yaty - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 9 Albirex Niigata PP 0 (Friendly).
After the Khmer New Year break, Crown were back in the swing of preparing for their crunch league match with NagaCorp next weekend with a practice game against Albirex Niigata at the RSN Stadium this afternoon. Injury meant there was no game-time for Bin Thierry, Kok Boris, Newton Katanha and Rafael Oliveira, though 23-year old Cameroon striker Baldwin Ngwa Afa'nwi, who has been training with the team after a stint in Vietnam was disrupted by injury, did get a run out. He's previously played in the top divisions in Cameroon, Kenya and Tunisia. The game got underway and it was soon clear that Crown were in the mood to dominate. The opening goal came on 16 minutes though by that time, Albirex goalkeeper Math Moslim had already been in the thick of the action, making good saves from Khim Borey, George Bisan and Sos Suhana. Full-back Ngoy Srin ventured upfield to claim the first goal after Kouch Sokumpheak picked out his overlapping run. Moslim managed to keep our Srin's first salvo but was helpless as the defender rattled in the rebound for the goal that Crown's early dominance warranted. A minute later, Srin was again in an advanced position but sent his half volley wide. Three minutes after the opener, Bisan won a challenge and fed Borey, who quickly spotted a gap in the Albirex defenses and lashed in a 25-yard effort that didn't even give Moslim time to react. With the match set at four periods of thirty minutes each, Jeong Ho Kim also tested Moslim from close range before the first break arrived. In the second period, Crown were quickly into their stride though Kim had a header saved and blasted over the cross-bar with his next effort. The best Albirex could manage was a break by Kazuki Tatsuta, but a combination of Sou Yaty and Odion Obadin, playing again after recovering from a serious mouth injury, stopped him in his tracks. Leng Makara tried an overhead kick that went inches wide while Bisan swept past three defenders and the goalkeeper as if they weren't there, but his rolled shot was kicked off the line.

Coach Sam Schweingruber rang the changes at the start of the third period, giving a first taste of action to Baldwin Ngwa. It took the Cameroon striker just nine minutes to register his first goal and twenty minutes to claim a hat-trick. His opener arrived when he latched onto Chea Dara's through ball, rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into an empty net. Two minutes later, he sped away from his marker on the halfway line, took a return pass from Ly Morslim and cracked in a looping drive from the edge of the box for his second. On 78 minutes, Makara burst into the penalty area after a Morslim touch had put him clear and he swept in his shot with confidence for Crown's fifth goal. Ngwa's hat-trick duly arrived on 80 minutes. Neou Sosela sent Thourng Da free on the left flank and his deep cross to the far post was met by the debutant striker, and his well-timed volley was soon nestling in the back of the net. A clinical 20-minute hat-trick to claim the matchball. Dara and Morslim both missed good opportunities before the break. In the final period, Ngwa headed over early on, Sraing Titchhy strode into the box only for his shot to be palmed aside and Morslim headed into the keeper's hands. At the other end, Keo Soksela recovered from a poor punch with a great fingertip save from Mat Hasan. On 104 minutes, Srin claimed his second as he showed quick feet to swerve around the keeper and roll in his shot after Sosela's mazy run had set him up. A minute later he was booked and substituted within the space of ten seconds. His replacement, George Bisan wrapped up the scoring with two goals of his own. With four minutes remaining, Ngwa headed Titchhy's corner onto the cross-bar and as the ball dropped, Bisan sent a half-volley inside the near post. Two minutes later, Morslim fed Bisan and the Nigerian ghosted past three players and let fly from the edge of the area for Crown's ninth. The referee blew for time a couple of minutes early to end Albirex's misery.
PPCFC v Albirex: Yaty (Ary 61 (Soksela 91)), Srin (Dara 31 (Sokheng 91)), Pheng (Da 61), Sokheng (Sovann 61), Obadin (Srin 61 (Bisan 106)), Sokumpheak (Makara 31 (Titchhy 91)), Sothy (Chanpolin 61), Suhana (Sokumpheak 61 (Kim 91)), Borey (Sosela 61), Bisan (Ngwa 61), Kim (Morslim 61). Bookings: Bisan, Srin. MOTM: Baldwin Ngwa - a 20 minute hat-trick announced his impact. Goals: Srin 2 (16, 104), Borey (19), Ngwa 3 (69, 71, 80), Makara (78), Bisan 2 (116, 118).
PPCFC starting 3rd Qtr, back row, LtoR: Ngwa, Makara, Dara, Sosela, Sovann, Srin. Front Row: Ary, Sokumpheak, Morslim, Chanpolin, Da - click to enlarge

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another nail

A match-fixing scandal has rocked Vietnamese football to the core with last year's champions Vissai Ninh Binh pulling out of this season's V-League competition, but strangely, they will apparently be allowed to continue their AFC Cup campaign, after progressing to the knockout stage. 11 players have admitted to police to taking cash to fix match results including a win over Kelantan in the AFC Cup this year, after being down 2-1 at the break. I's another large nail hammered into the coffin of Asian football that simply has to get its house in order before its too late and root out these cheats who bring shame onto the game we all love. Players and officials who admit to or are found guilty of manipulating results and selling games at whatever level must be banned. I would advocate throwing the book at them and then some - the punishment needs to be seen as a deterrent. However I'm sure the do-gooders won't allow the type of drastic action I would welcome. In my simplistic view, we need to make an example to all that this stain on the beautiful game will not be tolerated. It's time we took back the moral high ground and rid football of those who seek to use it as a vehicle to cheat and swindle. Match-fixing always has and always will make my blood boil.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Defensive errors cost

PPCFC v Dong Thap, back row, LtoR: Samnang, Titchhy, Sovann, Senteang, Baraing, Chanpolin. Front: Sodavid, Chansopheak, Piphop, Ponvuthy, Phearath - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 1 Dong Thap U-16s 3 (Friendly).
The Crown Academy U-16s were made to pay for mistakes in defence as they were beaten 3-1 by Dong Thap FC in the second and final friendly at the Thanh Long Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this afternoon. Their opponents took advantage with goals on 22 and 27 minutes and then the killer third goal on 64 minutes. Men Piphop pulled a goal back on 73 minutes as Crown did much better after the half-time break, but there was no way back. A tough test for the Crown Academy, who didn't start as fresh as they did against PVF two days earlier and paid for mistakes at the back.

PPCFC U-16s v Dong Thap: S Samnang, Chansopheak, Phearath, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Piphop, Ponvuthy, Titchhy, Senteang. Substitutes: Chanvuthy, Mesa, Chanchav, K Chhaya, Nuron, Sakrovy, Muslim, Noeut, T Chhaya, Rozak, V Samnang. Goal: Piphop (73).  

Nine members of the Phnom Penh Crown Academy will be heading to Singapore for the weekend of 17 & 18 May to defend the Singapore Soccer Sixes Youth Tournament trophy they won at last year's competition. The tournament is played at the Padang, the bowling-green surface of the Singapore Cricket Club and is regarded as the most prestigious six-a-side competition in Asia. Last May the Academy team won 7 matches, scoring 25 goals without conceding a single goal, beating Phuket Youth Home 2-0 in the final. This time around, the youngest members of the Academy will make the trip.

Boris signs on

Kok Boris (in red) pictured with Vice President Tommy Lim
Kok Boris (pictured with Vice President Tommy Lim) joined Phnom Penh Crown in October 2012 after featuring in two French/Euro-Khmer touring parties and gaining experience for clubs in France, where he was born. Boris qualifies for Cambodia through his parents and has grown in stature since joining the club, capable of performing to a very high standard either in midfield, or more recently, in defence. So it’s great news for all Crown fans that Boris today signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until August 2015. Boris said: “I’m so happy because it’s a heart choice for me… to stay long time with our club because we have still a lot of things to build up together. So for me Phnom Penh Crown FC is a family, my favourite club in Cambodia, I’m so glad to extend with them. Now to focus on the MCL!” Head coach Sam Schweingruber is a happy man after seeing Kok Boris sign on the dotted line and pledge himself to Crown until the end of next season. The Swiss-born tactician had this to say about his utility Khmer-French star; “He has shown how much he cares for our club and Cambodian football by committing to be part of our plans for the next season as well. Boris is working hard daily to improve himself and the team and his progression has also been noticed by the National Team’s coach. In our team he is a very important member, especially because he can play different positions. We use him most often as a Center Back where we need his experience, speed and confidence on the ball. I am very pleased to have Boris with the team for this and next season.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

Titchhy screamer makes it even

PPCFC starting line up v PVF, back row, LtoR: Chanpolin, Senteang, Sovann, Baraing, Titchhy, Chanvuthy. Front Row: Nuron, Piphop, Chansopheak, Phearath, Sodavid - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16s 1 PVF U-16s 1 (Friendly). 
The Crown Academy U-16s are in Ho Chi Minh City and played the first of two friendly matches this afternoon against the PVF U-16s, who will also take part in the forthcoming Asia Champions Trophy, and who beat Crown twice last season. A fantastic team effort from the Academy boys produced a 1-1 draw with Sraing Titchhy scoring the Crown goal on 49 minutes. In Sodavid found Titchhy on the edge of the box and he hit a left foot screamer into the top corner to level the scores after PVF had gone ahead on 17 minutes. Coach Bouy Dary was pleased with his team's performance and felt his side played the better football for most of the game. The home team were a combined U-16 and U-15 side. The result will be a confidence-booster ahead of the Asean Champions Trophy that kicks off in the middle of next month. Their second tour match is against the Dong Thap FC U-16s on Wednesday at the Thanh Long Center, before they return to Phnom Penh.
PPCFC U-16s v PVF: Chanvuthy, Chansopheak, Phearath, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Piphop, Nuron, Titchhy, Senteang. Substitutes: S Samnang, Mesa, Chanchav, K Chhaya, Ponvuthy, Sakrovy, Muslim, Noeut, T Chhaya, Rozak, V Samnang. Goal: Titchhy (49).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

George is the man

PPCFC v Police (courtesy of Masayori Ishikawa), back row, LtoR: Boris, Makara, Bisan, Yaty, Obadin. Front: Sothy, Da, Pheng, Suhana, Borey, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 National Police 0 (Metfone C-League).
That man again, George Bisan, scored the only goal of the game for the 2nd week running to give Crown the three points in this evening's Metfone C-League win over tough nut to crack National Police. Coach Sam Schweingruber made only one change for the game with Thourng Da replacing the suspended Ngoy Srin. Crown kicked off and in the fifth minute, Kouch Sokumpheak combined well with Khim Borey before bringing out a diving push around the post by police keeper Yasuyuki Yoshida. Leng Makara was close to getting on the end of a George Bisan pass before Hong Pheng made a timely interception at the other end of the pitch. A quickly-taken free kick from Odion Obadin, playing despite a serious mouth injury sustained in training, saw Bisan hold off two defenders only to see his shot deflected into Yoshida's hands. On 22 minutes it was the Nigerian hitman who again went closest, with a cheeky 25-yard lob from out of the blue, clipping the top of the woodwork. Borey sent a dipping shot across the face of goal before Police finally got into the game with a half hour gone. A Kok Boris pass back to Sou Yaty took a bad bounce and the keeper's faintest of touches put it past the post for a corner. Soon after Tith Dina's shot from distance was palmed aside by Yaty, and then a long punt upfield by Sob Ravy gave Yaty a heart-stopping moment, when he misjudged the bounce and failed to gather it but smothered the ball at the second attempt. With Police sensing a sliver of panic in the Crown backline, Reijin Tani avoided Yaty's rush and was only denied by Obadin's long legs, allowing Yaty to recover the ball, in the final action of the opening half.

Bisan was again to the fore as Crown pushed for the opening goal after the restart. An early goal attempt took a deflection and was collected by Yoshida. A fumble by the keeper to Borey's cross nearly gave Makara an opportunity but the danger was cleared. On 55 minutes, Crown broke the deadlock and Bisan was the man to do it. A Boris pass forward was collected by Sokumpheak and his surging run took him past three players before feeding the ball to Crown's top scorer. Bisan's first touch set himself up and he unleashed a low, hard drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area to register his sixth of the season. The goal celebration, with players scanning the ground, was a replay of the Obadin training accident, when he lost a tooth a day or two earlier. Neou Sosela replaced Makara soon after and immediately sent a low fizzing drive from distance just wide of the upright. With sixty-three minutes on the clock, a poor challenge on Sokumpheak allowed Borey to strike a 22-yard free kick, that curled dangerously but hit the outside of the post. Yoshida dropped the ball under pressure from Bisan but the danger was averted, and then Bisan broke intro the box, after battling for the ball with Sokumpheak and a trio of Police defenders, but as he took aim, a last-ditch tackle by Ravy saved the day. Crown looked set to score another when Borey's corner was header back by Obadin and Bisan's header was on target, with Yoshida keeping it out on the goal-line and Sokumpheak sending the rebound over the top. A minute later, the Crown skipper robbed the last defender, swept into the penalty area but rolled his shot agonisingly wide of the post. It had been all Crown until this point of the second half.  A free-kick by Noun Borey with four minutes to go gave Police their first sight of goal and it needed a touch around the post by Yaty to keep his team in front. As they had done at the end of the first half, Police found another gear, but Crown still had chances to extend their lead. Sokumpheak tried an inswinging free-kick that Yoshida punched off the line, and then Bisan broke away with Police's Ravy trying to keep up, the Crown striker hit the deck, but referee Chi Samedy gave the free-kick to the Police defender. In the fifth minute of injury time, Yaty was again the man in the way as Tani's diving header was pushed aside by Crown's national team stopper, the whistle blew and Crown retained their place at the top of the table for the Khmer New Year break. “We were far superior to them today,” said Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber after the game. “I’m a bit disappointed with how often we give away the responsibility of pulling the trigger and try to score - it keeps being a topic in training. The goal was a good example of what we need to be doing - having that killer instinct.”
PPCFC v Nat Police: Yaty, Da, Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Sothy, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Makara (Sosela 57), Borey (Oliveira 87), Bisan. Subs not used: Soksela, Dara, Sokheng, Pisa, Chanpolin, Titchhy, Morslim. Bookings: Makara, Borey, Sosela. MOTM; Yaty, with important saves at important moments. Goal: Bisan (55).

Friday, April 4, 2014

One Goal Campaign

The Phnom Penh Crown players were introduced to the One Goal Campaign yesterday through the NGO World Vision, who are partnering with the AFC and the Asian Football Development Project, to improve child nutrition, adopt a healthy lifestyle and increase grassroots football activities across Asia. Did you know that 200 million, or 56.4%, of children in the AFC countries are malnourished? The One Goal Campaign - Nutrition For Every Child, aims to raise awareness of the situation with PPCFC's players acting as Ambassadors for good nutritional practices and encouraging children to eat the right foods that will help them become healthy footballers in the future. It fits in perfectly with PPCFC's other community engagement projects including delivering One World Futbols to schools and organisations across Cambodia.

Another fixture revision

The football federation have again revised the Metfone C-League fixture list for the 2nd half of the season, bringing forward all of the matches as they wish to complete the season by the end of July. In August they will begin the renovation of the Olympic Stadium pitch from grass to artificial turf, with the help of funding from FIFA. This information leaked out recently and the federation have now made a half-hearted announcement about the second half of the MCL campaign.
The Phnom Penh Crown fixtures from now until the end of the season are as follows, with a final day game against Boeung Ket:
Sat 5 Apr National Police 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 26 Apr NagaCorp 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 10 May Western Uni 3.45pm @ Army Stadium
Sun 18 May AEU 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
2nd Round:
Wed 21 May Svay Rieng 3.45pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sun 25 May Army 3.30pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sun 1 Jun Kirivong 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sun 8 Jun BBU 3.30pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 14 Jun Western Uni 3.45pm @ Army Stadium
Sat 21 Jun Albirex Niigata PP 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 28 Jun TriAsia PP 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 5 Jul National Police 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 12 Jul NagaCorp 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sat 19 Jul Svay Rieng 6pm @ Olympic Stadium
Sun 27 Jul Boeung Ket 6pm @ Olympic Stadium.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Off to Vietnam

The Academy rest after a recent practice match
Head coach Bouy Dary will take a Phnom Penh Crown Academy squad of 22 players to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam later this week for a two-game friendly tour as preparation for the forthcoming Asia Champions U-16 Trophy which begins next month (Crown kick off with a tough tie away in China against Guangdong on 17 May). The Academy U-16s will face their old rivals PVF on 7 April and then the Dong Thap FC U-16s on 9 April, before returning home and taking their Khmer New Year break. A very important part of the team's preparation after a series of recent matches against adult opposition. PVF will be a really tough test, having beaten the Academy twice in the ACT competition last year. They have been drawn in a different group to Crown for this year's trophy, so it's a great opportunity to renew our friendship as well as face a stern examination.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Giving back

PPCFC players taking part in the HIV Prevention Campaign
Community engagement is a poncey way of saying connecting to the locals. And Phnom Penh Crown football club, of which I am the press officer, is far better than any other club in the country at doing it. In fact I'm quite proud of how much we get stuck in. For the past two nights, a few of our first-team players, the head coach and some of our staff have gone up to Kompong Chhnang to deliver messages and show support for the HIV Prevention Program we are running along side our friends at the SALT Academy. The target audience are High School students from all over the country, more than 2,700 of them, who are in Kompong Chhnang for the High School National Championships. Basically the message is, if you are having unprotected sex, get yourself tested, use condoms and do not look down/discriminate against those who have HIV. It's not something that is talked about much in conservative Cambodia, so its important we lend weight to this important message and our players and staff have thrown themselves into it. They've even got HIV tested too. It's been the same with the One World Futbol Project that we've been running for the past month - delivering indestructible futbols to schools and organisations - where our senior players and Academy youngsters also take part in running football sessions with boys and girls. This is exactly what every professional club in the country should be doing, giving their backing to projects that benefit the community at all levels. Our players are in a privileged position, they play professional sport for a living and need to put themselves up as role models, which is exactly what our club is doing.  Good stuff PPCFC, leading from the front. Oh, and we're currently top of the league table as well.