Saturday, May 31, 2014

Academy frustrated

PPCFC v Lao Toyota, back row, LtoR: Mesa, Titchhy, Senteang, Baraing, Chanpolin, Sovann (capt). Front: Chhaya, Sodavid, Chansopheak, Piphop, Ponvuthy - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 1 Lao Toyota 1 (Asia U-16 Champions Trophy).
For their first home game in the ACT2014, Crown welcomed Lao Toyota to Olympic Stadium for a morning kick-off, bathed in the morning sunshine and watched by a large crowd. In the third minute, the visitors had the first shot which Sem Mea collected easily, and soon after the opposition keeper beat Chhuot Senteang in a race for a pass forward by Sraing Titchhy. Kim Chhaya fired the loose ball well wide from 25 yards out. Some strong, and illegal challenges from the Lao team produced the first of three yellow cards with just twelve minutes on the clock. Pov Ponvuthy was busy on the left flank and his neat ball gave Senteang a run into the box only for his left-foot attempt to go straight into the hands of Saymanolinh Paseuth. Ponvuthy tried his luck without success before Crown's loud claims for a penalty were waived aside on 17 minutes. In Sodavid burst into the area only to go over the foot of Thongmany Panyaphong, who needed treatment in the aftermath. Just two minutes later, another Sodavid spurt, onto a precise Chhaya pass, opened up another opportunity and a left-foot drive beat the Lao keeper for the game's opening goal. The large audience made themselves heard as Crown continued to dominate proceedings. Ponvuthy took aim but fired wide from distance and was then carried off after another clumsy tackle on the tricky winger. Yet another foul on Ponvuthy gave Ouk Sovann a clear view of the Lao goal with one of his free-kick specials from 25 yards out, but Paseuth dived to catch the attempt at the foot of his post. The first real attempt from the visitors, with ten minutes of the opening half to go, saw Thatsapphone Bouttavong send a 25 yard effort over the head of Mesa and clip the top of the cross-bar. Another spell of intense pressure from Crown gave Men Piphop sight of goal but his shot was gathered safely, as was a quick break and teasing cross from Senteang. Another Sovann free-kick from the half-way line was easily caught and Paseuth then earned the admiration of his teammates when he stood up and denied Crown their best chance of a second goal. In the second minute of stoppage time, Orn Chanpolin's long pass sent Titchhy racing away from his own half, but he waited too long to make his mind up and the keeper closed in to make the save on the edge of the area. 1-nil to the home side at the interval.

The Ponvuthy-Senteang combination opened up the Lao defense in the second minute after the restart, but again, Senteang's left-foot strike wasn't strong enough to beat Paseuth. Titchhy's surge past two defenders got the crowd on their feet but his low cross evaded Senteang by mere inches. Six minutes played and Crown were rocked by a sucker punch. Sovann's attempted clearance was charged down by Laithaya Sisongkham and fell into the path of Sinthaphone Phanvongsa, who sped towards goal, rounded Mesa and rolled the ball in for an undeserved equaliser. Crown heads dropped both on and off the pitch, as the goal was met by stunned silence. Less than a minute later, Senteang's poke forwards saw Titchhy get a touch before being clattered by Paseuth, but the referee refused to give anything other than a goal-kick. Five minutes later, Titchhy showed his quick feet and a clean pair of heels to three opponents, released Senteang with a perfect pass, but as the striker rounded Paseuth, he lost his footing and his weak shot was easily cleared off the goal-line by Panyaphong. Paseuth was again in the thick of the action as Sodavid's low center was smothered at the second attempt under pressure. The limping Titchhy was replaced by Vat Samnang and almost immediately his 30-yard shot tested the Lao keeper. In a rare Lao venture forward, Phanvongsa cleared the cross-bar from way out, but it was still Crown making most of the running, though tiring legs didn't help their cause. Another Samnang snap-shot from distance flew just wide and as Senteang created havoc in the back-line, Sath Rozak sent his fierce effort over the top. The final goal-bound effort came from a Seut Baraing free-kick which Paseuth held onto and the Lao goalkeeper was easily the visitor's stand-out player of the match. Tempers flared momentarily just before the end but was no more than a result of the agonizingly hot weather and Crown's frustration that they didn't take advantage of their superiority for long periods of the match. Coach Bouy Dary was also straight to the point in his after match comments; "The first half we did really well, we did what we wanted to do, created a lot of chances and we really should've scored three. The second period we started okay, but then made a mistake and the boys became shaky and didn't play the way we want to play. Our opponents didn't create anything, they weren't dangerous and we handed them a point. I'm pretty disappointed, we should've done better at home."
PPCFC v Lao Toyota; Mesa, Chansopheak (Chanchav 88), Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin, Sodavid (Rozak 68), Piphop, Ponvuthy (Muslim 83), Titchhy (V Samnang 65), Senteang. Subs not used: Chanvuthy, Phearath, Sakrovy. Bookings: Piphop (simulation). MOTM: Sodavid - a goal and strong performance. Goal: Sodavid (19).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Charity, home and away

In a spirit of giving, Phnom Penh Crown this week donated the monies from the sale of 30 football kits to the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital, via a charity football match between fans of Real Madrid and Man United, and will on Saturday, donate all the match entry ticket monies, from their Academy game with Lao Toyota, to the local Happy Tree Orphanage, with 30 children joining the fun. Crown already has a thriving community engagement program involving schools and organisations as well as a series of good cause initiatives that they are very active in, from child malnutrition to HIV prevention campaigns. This is a football club that gives, and keeps giving. On top of that, the club is offering a series of prizes, thirty in all, to fans who buy tickets for their five Asia Champions Trophy matches. Entry is just 2,000 riel and there are chances to win playing kits, training kits, get to train with the Crown squad and other prizes. 

As predicted, maybe I should do this for a living, the two Metfone C-League teams came a cropper in their Singapore Cup matches this week. Both Svay Rieng and NagaCorp travelled to Singapore to meet two of the island's top teams and will return after taking a proper beating. Svay Rieng found it hard going against Albirex Niigata and the Japanese team won at a canter, 3-0. This evening, NagaCorp, who tried their luck by applying late to the competition organisers and got the nod, will probably regret bothering, taking a 5-0 thrashing by Home United firmly on the chin. Both teams have missed the domestic competition for two weekends and will now play catch-up on their MCL fixtures, with midweek games lined up for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reward, suspensions and no hope

Sam Schweingruber picks up the AFC Asia Dream NGO award
Phnom Penh Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber was a speaker at last week's Sports for Development 2014 Conference in Ho Chi Minh City and at the same time was on hand to receive the prestigious AFC Asia Dream NGO Award on behalf of the SALT Academy, an NGO that he founded in Battambang a few years ago and for which he is still a director. He collected the award from AFC General Secretary Dato’ Alex Soosay and commented: “We started with a very small set up and continued to grow with the help of friends. It’s really good to see that the news of our good work has reached AFC and we feel honoured to receive this award. It is really a proud moment to be an NGO of the year and this recognition will surely boost our morale.” A really fabulous achievement for an NGO in northwest Cambodia to receive an award that spans the whole of Asian football. It doesn't get much bigger than this. Well done to SALT and their Mighty Girls, who already have a very close bond with PPCFC.

How remiss of me not to mention the recent announcement by the football federation that they have suspended 3 players from national and domestic football, as a result of an investigation into their activities. Okay, the federation have forgotten to say what those activities were, but the 3 players have been banned from the national team for a year and from domestic league football for six months. It all began when the federation president stopped 4 players and the team manager from travelling to the SEA Games in December, indicating they'd brought dishonour to the team. Six months later comes the verdict. The players who've been suspended are Cambodia national team regulars, Boeung Ket skipper Keo Sokngon, Naga's Sok Rithy and Svay Rieng's Tum Saray. They won't kick a ball in anger for at least six months. Police's Say Piseth and the national team manager are unscathed and their names haven't even been mentioned in the announcement. I think that's the last we will hear of it, unless the federation feel inclined to say more. Which they won't. It's now a closed chapter. And of course not a peep from the head coach on the matter, even though he's lost three important players ahead of October's qualifying rounds of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Korean coach of the Cambodia national team has selected 24 players to get together for training in order to see who will represent their country at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy to be held in Brunei in August. The competition is at U-21 level with a few over-age players thrown in. Three Phnom Penh Crown players have been invited to the training sessions, Thourng Da, Ngoy Srin and Touch Sokheng. 

This week two teams from Cambodia will take part in the RHB Singapore Cup. C-League reigning champions Svay Rieng meet Albirex Niigata later today, who are one of the top teams in Singapore, they finished 2nd last term and their team consists of all-Japanese players. NagaCorp also put their names down and got into the competition, and they will come up against Home United on Friday, the current holders of the Singapore Cup. I don't hold out any hope that the Cambodian teams will get through these one-off matches. The two Singapore sides are currently in their league's top five places. So no hope at all. If they do, I'll eat a whole Burger King Whopper, and chips.

MCL Round-up

Last weekend’s reduced fixture list in the Metfone C-League saw Phnom Penh Crown re-take the top spot from Boeung Ket. Crown, with injury problems, took their time to overcome an Army outfit, who’d beaten NagaCorp the previous week. In fact, Army took the lead when Ngoy Srin headed past his own goalkeeper for an own goal, but Crown didn’t falter and went onto win with second-half goals from captain Kouch Sokumpheak and George Bisan. The Nigerian striker now has 11 goals this season and leads the chase for the Golden Boot award as the league’s leading goalscorer. This Sunday, Crown will look to extend their lead with a match against struggling Kirivong under the Olympic Stadium floodlights. Boeung Ket are keeping the league leaders in sight and netted two late goals to sink TriAsia in their exciting clash on Saturday. New French signing Ibrahima Sow scored on his debut and Chukwuma Ohuruogu grabbed the winner two minutes from time after Sok Chanrasmey had put TriAsia in front early on. Boeung Ket will look to take down the National Police this coming weekend to continue to keep the pressure on at the top.  The Police scored the only goal of the game with a massively deflected shot under floodlights, when they met Build Bright United on Sunday evening. It wasn’t a game that will remain in the memory for too long.

In the only other match last Saturday, struggling Western University must’ve thought their luck had turned when they went into a two-goal lead through Privat Mbarga and Deun Sotheara. But Asia Euro University had other ideas and Sok Sengtara scored before the break, with George Kelechi forcing the equalizer home in the dying moments of the game. Points shared between the two university sides.
With both NagaCorp, who meet Home United, and Svay Rieng, up against Albirex Niigata (they lost 3-0), in the RHB Singapore Cup this week, the two teams get another free weekend, but will be back in action during the following midweek. This Saturday – 31 May – the Phnom Penh Crown Academy U-16 team will entertain Lao Toyota FC from Laos in the first home tie of the Asia U-16 Champions Trophy. The match will kick-off in the morning at 9am and the game will be televised live by Bayon TV. In their two matches so far, the Crown Academy youngsters have won 2-1 in Guangdong, China but came unstuck in Malaysia last weekend, losing 3-2 to Frenz United in stoppage time.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Crown stay on top

PPCFC v Army - Line-up, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Pisa, Srin, Borey, Bisan, Ary. Front Row: Da, Sothy, Makara, Sokumpheak, Pellegrino - click to enlarge
RESULT: Phnom Penh Crown 2 Army 1 (Metfone C-League).
Phnom Penh Crown were looking to confirm top spot in the Metfone C-League with this game against Army, but coach Sam Schweingruber had selection headaches before kick-off. Touch Sokheng and Hong Pheng reported sick with fever the day before, Sos Suhana and Bin Thierry were out with leg injuries and Kok Boris wasn't yet back to full fitness. He also gave Yok Ary a rare run out in goal at the expense of Sou Yaty in a game Crown needed to win to keep up the pressure amongst the leading pack of clubs. As early as the fourth minute, the adventurous Ngoy Srin lobbed a shot that took the paintwork off the far post and then headed over a center that George Bisan challenged for but sent his header over the cross-bar. Odion Obadin connected with Adriano Pellegrino's deep corner but nodded straight into the keeper's hands, before Phourng Soksana went close at the other end with a surge into the box and a shot that missed the far post by a foot. Pellegrino was looking to make the same impact as he did on his debut but he was out of luck as one shot was blocked by a forest of legs and another whistled inches past the far post, after a neat turn and quick look-up. Leng Makara moved swiftly onto Bisan's pass and had the keeper to beat, but chose to try to squeeze his shot inside the near post and found only the side-netting. Soksana was proving to be a thorn as he raced onto a ball down the middle, Ary came out quickly to block but the rebound fell nicely for the Army striker, only for Obadin's big frame to get in the way of his shot. A let-off for Crown. Makara's lob over the backline let in Pellegrino but his first-time shot from an angle went wide, while Soksana stung Ary's hands with a 25-yard free-kick on the half-hour. Crown continued to press with Makara and Chhom Pisa attempts from distance making no headway and Pellegrino's deft touch missed Bisan's run into the box by a whisker. Twice in quick succession, Obadin arrived late at the far post to get his head to Pellegrino corners, but both times they found the welcoming arms of the Army stopper, Um Sereyrath. An elbow on Bisan gave Khim Borey the chance to float in a free-kick, which Sereyrath punched clear as the whistle blew for the interval.  

The second period was even more pronounced in Crown's favour as they dominated from the kick-off and launched wave after wave of attacks into the Army half of the pitch. A positional switch for Kouch Sokumpheak, after a first-half spent in central defence, seemed to do the trick. Khek Khemarin had to act smartish to foil Borey's sprint into the area early on, and Bisan's pass to Makara looked to have unlocked the military defence, only for Sereyrath to stand firm and deflect the goal-bound shot for a corner. Nine minutes in and a 25-yard effort from Borey had Sereyrath scrambling in his six-yard box to get a hand to it only for Bisan to volley in the rebound, then turn around and see the assistant referee's flag raised. Just a minute later and Ung Vita's cross into the Crown box created a moment of uncertainty as Srin got his head to the ball but only managed to divert it up and over Ary and under the crossbar. Army had a shock lead, completely against the run of play. Bisan soon had a shot deflected into the hands of Sereyrath while Chea Dara pushed up to the edge of the box only to fire wide. On 66 minutes, Crown made good on their threat and equalised. Srin won a tackle in the middle, slid the ball out to Sokumpheak, who raced into the box and hit a low drive with his left foot that eluded Sereyrath and found the corner of the net at the far post. 1-1 and game on again. Crown continued their bombardment as Bisan evaded three challenges, only for Borey to blast the loose ball well over, while Ouk Sothy got a touch to a Borey corner, but could only steer it wide. The goal opened up for Makara as Bisan chested a Thourng Da cross into his path, but his shot went straight into the hands of Sereyrath, rather than either side of him.

Crown's pursuit of more goals paid dividends on 74 minutes as Sokumpheak's quick pass to Bisan, gave the striker space to cut back onto his right foot and from twelve yards out, he blasted the ball into the roof of the net, to put his team ahead. It was the Nigerian's 11th goal of the season and certainly no more than his side deserved. A minute later, Srin was again in an advanced position, weaved past a defender and powered in a drive that Sereyrath parried out of harm's way. Noeu Sosela entered the fray after a recent injury stint and made inroads with his quick feet. With seven minutes to go, Ary was forced to leave the field after a collision damaged his knee and Sou Yaty took his place. At the other end, another pinpoint Pellegrino corner was powerfully headed down by Obadin but the bounce of the ball cleared the cross-bar, much to the defender's disappointment. Sensing a chance for glory, Da got to the byeline but instead of pulling the ball back, went for goal only to find the side netting. Yaty was forced to tip over a Pom Tola free-kick from distance and in the closing stages of five minutes of added-on time, Borey miskicked in the penalty area for a second time and then booted the ball well over from Bisan's pass. It didn't matter, Crown collected another three points to return to top spot in the Metfone C-League table.

Schweingruber spoke after the match. "I'm happy with the result. We are progressing, things are getting better. Lots of individual technical mistakes in the 1st half. We couldn't keep the ball well enough, a few players not on their game. The changes certainly helped. After the break we showed what we are capable of. It wasn't the best ever performance, but we had showed flowing, attacking football, and created chances. Obviously we lost a goal to a miscommunication between goalkeeper and defender, that can happen. But the reaction after that, I was very pleased. Two goals and many more chances. In particular our midfield was much improved. We deserved the win, we were the better team. We needed character and I'm proud of the team for showing that today, to get the win we needed."
PPCFC v Army: Ary (Yaty 83), Srin, Da, Sokumpheak, Obadin, Sothy, Pisa (Dara 46), Borey, Makara (Sosela 80), Pellegrino, Bisan. Subs not used: Soksela, Boris, Morslim. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sokumpheak - never stopped working & scored. Goals: Sokumpheak (66), Bisan (74).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Injury-time agony

PPCFC v Frenz, back row, LtoR: Mesa, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Titchhy, Senteang, Sovann (capt). Front: Ponvuthy, Noeut, Piphop, Baraing, Chhaya - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 2 Frenz United Malaysia 3 (Asia U-16 Champions Trophy).
Phnom Penh Crown Academy's preparation for one of their toughest assignments in this season's Asia U-16 Champions Trophy, playing in the backyard of one of the favourites, and the competition sponsors, Malaysia's Frenz United, was ruined by torrential rain, causing the match to be put back three hours and putting the playing conditions on a par with last week's visit to China. At this rate, the youngsters will be doing their midweek training in a swimming pool. That said, Frenz were reeling from a defeat to Chonburi the week before and were obviously looking to put that right in front of their home crowd. Crown coach Bouy Dary made no changes to his starting line-up, that won 2-1 against Guangdoing last weekend. With the pitch covered in water just below the surface, a passing game was impossible and Frenz used the conditions to their advantage as they pressed hard from the start. Crown goalkeeper Sem Mesa would be the busiest player on the pitch in the opening half and in the second minute he pushed aside a 30-yard stinger from Zuki Hafizuddin. With the home side dominating early possession, Fikri Syafiq tried his luck twice from long distance, with both shots easily clearing the cross-bar but the pressure paid off in the 8th minute when Ismawi Rahman sent in an inviting cross and Azhar Akhmar got between two defenders and deftly touched the ball past Mesa, for the opening goal. Frenz captain Razak Naaim broke free but his low drive was gathered by Mesa before a long range free-kick from Ouk Sovann was Crown's first real attempt on goal in the fifteenth minute.

In their next attack, on 19 minutes, Crown levelled when Men Piphop's pass forward went under the foot of Salleh Hafizi and Chhuot Senteang took advantage by calmly sliding his shot wide of the despairing Frenz keeper Zaini Adam. Akhmar went looking for his second goal but a combination of Suon Noeut and Sovann blocked his way to goal, and at the other end, Sraing Titchhy's pull back to Senteang was closed down and the shot blocked. Twice in a minute, Mesa stood firm to deny Rahman's surge into the box and fierce drive at the near post, and again, batting away Naaim's attempt after Crown failed to clear their lines. Crosses into the Crown penalty area were causing concern and Hafizuddin should've done better with one that fell to him at the far post. On 41 minutes the advantage swung in the visitors favour as Senteang capitalised on an error and broke clear, only for Rasmizal Amirul to bring him down from behind, receive his second yellow card and an early bath. A straight red card should've been the decision. Sovann's free-kick attempt, from 25 yards out, brought out a good diving save from Adam. From the corner, the keeper looked to have pushed Pov Ponvuthy in the back but the referee waived play on, as Orn Chanpolin lobbed the ball back in, missing the cross-bar by inches. In the first minute of time added on, Crown's pressure paid off as Chanpolin's pass was fluffed by Suhaimi Syazwi and Titchhy took full advantage, rolling the ball coolly into the far corner to give the Academy a half-time lead.

The second-half by comparison to the opening 45 minutes, began rather tamely. Crown were the first to try their luck when Ponvuthy touched in In Sodavid but his shot went wide. From a Sodavid corner, Kim Chhaya arrived late but sent his drive well over the cross-bar. Frenz made a series of changes to freshen up their ten-men, but again it was Sodavid who sent his shot into the arms of Adam from distance. With their first real dangerous move of the half, with fifteen minutes on the clock remaining, Frenz equalised. A corner was directed on target by Fadzrul Danel but Chhaya was on hand to head it clear, only for Hafizi to steer the ball over the goal-line as Crown failed to snuff out the danger. Nekmat Aidiel was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a two-footed lunge on Piphop as the referee continued his policy of leniency. Crown introduced three new faces, though it was Noeut who was stretchered off after an elbow in the face, not seen by the officials. With the match in time added on, Frenz made one final push for victory and it paid off. It was in the sixth minute of stoppage time that Aidel's high ball into the box saw substitute Jeffery Fareez get the jump on Noeut and steered his header into the far corner. It was a crushing blow for the gutsy Crown Academy players as the final whistle blew almost immediately. Crown Academy coach Bouy Dary offered these words after the final whistle. "The players are very disappointed and there were lots of tears after the game. The boys need to adapt with the type of situation we found ourselves in, leading and with the opposition having only 10 players. We need to play to our style, keep the ball more and find the space to attack. We don't need to hurry. We knew they would attack us because they were at home and they lost in their first game - and we saw they tried to do everything to win the game. It was tough out there for our players. We need to look back at the game closely and see how we can improve for the future." PPCFC v Frenz: Mesa, Noeut, Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin (Rozak 90+5), Sodavid, Piphop, Titchhy (Muslim 85), Ponvuthy (V Samnang 87), Senteang. Subs not used: Chanvuthy, S Samnang, Chanchav, Phearath. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sovann - calm at the back. Goals: Senteang (19), Titchhy (45+1).

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Spark of magic"

Adriano Pellegrino
Phnom Penh Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber gave his thoughts on the addition to his squad for the 2nd Round of the Metfone C-League campaign, of the vastly experienced Australian midfield playmaker Adriano Pellegrino. "We were in touch with Adriano a long time ago. We almost signed him at the beginning of the season for a loan period, but decided against it as we didn't know how long he'd be with us. Looking back, we should've signed him, it was a mistake. He came to train with us on several occasions, so we knew what he's capable of, his experience and the potential he still has. He's just 29 and he's played at the top level, he's very motivated and excited to be joining our project this year. He's 100% committed to giving his best for the benefit of the team. He's played at different levels in Australia, was a regular at Perth Glory, though not 100% a regular at Central Coast Mariners, sometimes in, sometimes out, but he played in the AFC Champions League in Japan and China, and has represented Australia at U-20 level. That's a real quality football pedigree. A player of his experience, he also played in Greece and has worked with some amazing coaches, played against top teams as well as playing many different positions, so he can fit different roles on the pitch. He brings leadership, organisation, professionalism, helps others, guides and directs - which we've been extremely weak at up until now. He reads the game really well, makes quick decisions, sees the runs, good with dead balls as we've seen, has a good shot, can dribble, can hold the ball and take people on. He can be that influential player, provide that spark of magic, which is ideal support for our team and just what we need right now."

Adriano will be thirty in June. Adelaide-born, he played his early football with Adelaide City, Adelaide United, Western Strikers and North Eastern Metrostars, as well as a stint in Greece with Panachaiki. In 2008 he joined A-League team Perth Glory for four seasons, before moving to Central Coast Mariners, also in the Australian top flight, where he took his A-League appearances total to just under the 100 mark and played in last season's AFC Champions League. He also appeared for the Central Coast Mariner's Academy team last term. Adriano played a single game for AEU earlier this year on his way to join Kedah in the Malaysian League, but that deal fell through and he's returned to Cambodia to join forces with Crown. He was also capped four times with the Australian U-20 national team.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Baldwin & Adriano sign on

Baldwin Ngwa signs on with PPCFC
Phnom Penh Crown coach Sam Schweingruber has signed Cameroon striker Baldwin Ngwa Afa'nwi even though he cannot play for Crown in the second half of the season. Crown are allowed to sign just one foreign player to play in Round 2 and that player is Adriano Pellegrino. So the signing of Baldwin is one for the future and he will feature for Asia Euro in the MCL for the remainder of the current season. Just turned 24 years old, Baldwin was on trial in Vietnam at the start of the year with Thanh Quang Ninh but suffered a hamstring injury, his visa expired and he came to Cambodia. That's when he came to try out with Crown to regain his fitness and scored a hat-trick in his first outing, a friendly game against Albirex. The man with a nose for goal 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. He also had a stint in the Oman professional league with Majees Sports Club, so despite his relative young age, he has quite a bit of experience on his playing CV. Recovering his match sharpness will be his first priority with AEU and then we will look ahead to next season.
Adriano Pellegrino, in Central Coast Mariners colours
Twenty-nine year old Adriano Pellegrino made a memorable impact on his debut against AEU last weekend with two goals and as many assists, and that was just in the first-half! Born in Adelaide, Australia, he played his early football with Adelaide City, Adelaide United, Western Strikers and North Eastern Metrostars, as well as a stint in Greece with Panachaiki. In 2008 he joined A-League team Perth Glory for 3 years, before moving to Central Coast Mariners, also in the Australian League, where he registered nearly 100 A-League appearances in total and played in last season's AFC Champions League. He played a game for AEU earlier this term on his way to Kedah in the Malaysian League, but that deal fell through and their bad luck luck is our good fortune. The former Australian U-20 international joined Crown a few hours before his two-goal debut against AEU. Now 29 years old, coach Sam Schweingruber had this to say about the midfield playmaker: "Adriano was instrumental in all the first half goals against AEU, scoring two and setting up two more with his free-kicks. He's strong on the ball, clever, reads the game quickly, definitely a player on a higher level. We will see more of him dictating and controlling games, changing the rhythm, slowing and speeding the game up. He's not yet 100% fit, hasn't played 90 minutes for a while, so there's a lot more to come. I'm excited to see how over the next few weeks he can perform when he gets fitter." A longer interview with Schweingruber on his newest signing will be posted later.

MCL weekend round-up

Phnom Penh Crown returned to the top of the Metfone C-League table in pretty emphatic style on Sunday, handing Asia Euro University a lesson in taking your chances, winning 9-1 at the Olympic Stadium. Nigerian striker George Bisan netted four times after the interval to take his tally for the season to ten goals. In the opening half, new arrival Adriano Pellegrino made his presence felt with two goals of his own and two free-kicks, perfectly placed on the heads of Odion Obadin and Hong Pheng, who found the back of the net. Thourng Da also got his name on the scoresheet, while Sary Mathnorotin netted AEU’s consolation. Crown head coach Sam Schweingrunber was keen to give AEU their dues. “You have to give them credit for trying to attack us, being positive and creating a few chances. That gave us space and with our superior power, we kept punishing them. It all came together for us.” Knocked off the top spot by Crown’s success, NagaCorp went down meekly to the Army, in the earlier match on Sunday. Pom Tola scored a scorcher of a free-kick and Phoung Soksana scored Army’s other, as they inflicted a surprise defeat on the casino-backed club. Japanese-import Masahiro Fukasawa netted Naga’s late consolation. The military team have it all to do again this coming weekend, when they face leaders Phnom Penh Crown on Sunday. Will lightning strike twice at the Olympic Stadium?

Boeung Ket kept in touch with the league leaders, scraping through with a 2-1 win over bottom-club Albirex Niigata. Chukwuma Uhuruogu and Keo Sokpheng scored a goal in each half, with Mat Hasan scoring for Albirex with the last kick of the game. Pich Sina’s second minute goal gave Build Bright a slim margin of victory over TriAsia, who are dropping down the table after a bright start to the season. The win moved BBU up into fourth place. Svay Rieng put their recent AFC President’s Cup disappointment behind them and thrashed Western University 5-0 at the Army Stadium. The goalscoring honours went to Bata Dzarma with a hat-trick and two goals from Nob Tola, with all the goals coming in the second half. Another five-goal haul on Saturday went to the National Police team, who inflicted the whitewash on Kirivong. Noun Borey took his tally for the season to nine goals with a hat-trick.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Back from the dead

PPCFC v Svay Rieng, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Bisan, Kim, Borey, Yaty, Sokumpheak. Front Row: Sothy, Sokheng, Pheng, Da, Makara - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 3 Svay Rieng 3 (Metfone C-League).
In a match held-over from Round 1 due to Svay Rieng's involvement in the AFC President's Cup, Adriano Pellegrino, who made a substantial contribution to the 9-1 win over AEU on his debut a few days earlier, was ineligible for this match under the FFC's rules, and Crown were also missing the injured Sos Suhana, Kok Boris and Bin Thierry. Jeongho Kim returned to the line-up after serving a 4-match suspension. On a bobbly Olympic Stadium pitch, neither side posed any threat until the reigning champions took the lead on seven minutes when a break down the left by Muong Makara found Bata Dzarma unmarked in the center and he guided his header past a stranded Sou Yaty. The Nigerian striker had netted a hat-trick at the weekend and his first half-hour of this game would prove to be a repeat of his success. A wayward back-pass had Sar Sophea scrambling to kick the ball to safety with Jeongho Kim challenging, Ouk Sothy cleared the bar with a shot from 30 yards and Leng Makara bore down on goal only to be thwarted by a lunging Samouen Pidor tackle, as Crown stepped up their efforts. From a Kouch Sokumpheak cross, three Crown players failed to get a touch to the ball as it zipped across the face of goal, and Kim tried his luck from the edge of the box, but Sophea held on easily enough. George Bisan saw a shot from distance sail into the stands, another close range effort was blocked by James Adekunle, and a header from Hong Pheng's early cross should've gone in but went straight to the waiting Sophea. Svay Rieng ventured forward rarely and Prak Mony Udom's free-kick went well over, but against the run of play, his team extended their lead on 28 minutes. A punt forwards caught the Crown defence napping, Dzarma stole a yard on Odion Obadin and hit an early drive that beat Yaty as he came off his line. Just three minutes later and the Military-Police team were in seventh heaven, with Dzarma's hat-trick goal. Chea Samnang's simple pass freed the striker, who took the ball around Yaty and popped it in to give his team a serious advantage against the league leaders. Needing to get back into the game, Crown had their reliable defender Obadin to thank for that lifeline with 41 minutes of the match gone. He rose majestically to head the ball powerfully past Sophea from Sokumpheak's corner and give him team some much needed self-belief. Within a minute, Bisan was left to scratch his head after his 20-yard piledriver was superbly tipped over the bar by Sophea in full flight. Khim Borey sent a long range effort over the top and the teams went in at the break with the league leaders needing to step up their game after the break.

A tactical change saw Kim pushed up as the main striker and just five minutes in, he was mere inches away from connecting with Sokumpheak's fine cross. Sothy sent an effort into Sophea's hands and the keeper was on his best form when he caught a dipping Borey free-kick at full stretch. Crown coach Sam Schweingruber made a couple of changes to add new impetus and an almost casual lob from Bisan just cleared the bar. On the half-hour mark, Crown were back in the hunt when Sothy's long corner found the head of Obadin and his downward header was touched over the line by the forehead of a lurking Hong Pheng. Game on. Two minutes later and Bisan sent a fizzing drive against the cross-bar, Thourng Da saw two efforts sail harmlessly high and wide, and Makara sent a volley into Sophea's arms. The same befell Bisan as his header found the keeper in the way and as time ticked on and five minutes of extra time were indicated, Crown continued to throw themselves at the crumbling Svay Rieng backline. The pressure told two minutes into stoppage time as Sothy returned a Sophea punch out back towards goal, the ball fell to Borey and the acting captain, took a touch before lashing the ball inside the post for a dramatic equaliser. Crown had come back from the dead to claim an invaluable point, when all had seemed lost. Head coach Sam Schweingruber's after-match comments: "The intensity and high-tempo pressing I expected from my team didn't happen and we have to look at what went wrong at the start. The 1st goal I thought was offside but then an unmarked player in the middle headed home - that cannot happen, its not acceptable, we have to be switched on. We had about five chances before the second goal, so not everything was going wrong, but the 2nd and 3rd goals were shockers to give away. So we need to look at what went wrong and correct it quickly. We knew it was important to get back before half time. So I'm very happy with the delivery and with Tony's finish - an important goal at an important time. At half-time we had to make sure everyone believed we could get back. Some players needed to wake up, they were under-performing. We made some changes and in the second half they got punished for not finishing us off. In the end it was all us, so we're happy and they're frustrated."
PPCFC v Svay Rieng: Yaty, Pheng, Da (Morslim 88), Sokheng (Srin 67), Obadin, Sokumpheak (Pisa 57), Sothy, Kim, Borey, Makara, Bisan. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Dara, Boris, Sosela. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sothy - tireless midfield worker. Goals: Obadin (41), Pheng (75), Borey (90+2).

Monday, May 19, 2014

What a weekend

The Academy U-14s receive their winners trophy in Singapore

To make it a hat-trick of successes for Phnom Penh Crown at the weekend, the Academy U-14s who travelled to Singapore to play in the prestigious Singapore Soccer Sixes Youth Tournament, will return home this afternoon having retained the championship for the 2nd year running, scoring 27 goals in 5 matches and conceding just 2 goals. In the group matches, the U-14s thrashed Singapore Muhammadiyah A 6-0, Singapore Muhammadiyah B 9-0 and Bali 9-0 but lost to the Thai team 2-1. That meant PPCFC and the Thai Youth Home team from Phuket met in yesterday's final and this time the U-14s came out on top, 2-0. Mao Piseth totalled an individual tally of 15 goals in the competition.
Here are their results:
v Youth Football Home Thailand Lost 1-2 – Panha
v Muhammadiyah A Singapore Won 6-0 – Piseth 5, Saphy
v Muhammadiyah B Singapore Won 9-0 – Piseth 4, N David, Chanmony 2, Panha 2
v Bali Sports Foundation Indonesia Won 9-0 – Piseth 5, Chanmony 3, Kakada
Final: v Youth Football Home Thailand Won 2-0 – Piseth, N David.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pellegrino shades MOTM

PPCFC v AEU - Back row, LtoR: Pheng, Bisan, Sothy, Obadin, Borey, Yaty. Front: Pellegrino, Da, Suhana, Sokheng, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge - courtesy of Masayori Ishikawa
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 9 AEU 1 (Metfone C-League).
The ITC cleared before the game and Crown were able to name new signing Adriano Pellegrino in their line-up for the Metfone C-League match with Asia Euro under the lights at Olympic Stadium. Pellegrino played nearly 100 games in the A-League, represented Australia at U-20 level and was a target of Crown coach Sam Schweingruber, who felt a player of his experience would benefit his league leaders for the second round of MCL matches. And so it proved, in some style. It took ten minutes for the new face to even touch the ball, after Sos Suhana went close early on with a cross-shot that just missed the far post. Kouch Sokumpheak had a goal-bound shot blocked and at the other end, Odion Obadin recovered from a slip to deny Sary Mathnorotin a sight of goal. On 21 minutes, Pellegrino made the impression his coach had been hoping for. His beautifully delivered free-kick from 40-yards out landed on the forehead of Obadin and he buried his header powerfully inside the far post. Three minutes later and it got even better for the new face. Khim Borey broke down the left and delivered a low cross into the box, and as Pellegrino arrived, he took a touch and fired the ball past a stranded Mak Theara. Another three minutes and Crown were firmly in the driver's seat with a third goal, and it came from the right boot of the Australian, who was quickly making himself a fan's favourite. Picking up a loose ball 25 yards from goal, he launched an unstoppable drive over the head of Theara that sailed into the net. Crown were firmly in control with Pellegrino pulling all the strings. Another of his free-kicks found Obadin again but this time he headed wide. A slide-rule pass sent George Bisan clear but a raised flag ended that run before AEU showed some signs of activity. Mohamed Hamza's drive went a few feet wide and then he released George Kelechi, who went around Sou Yaty but Touch Sokheng got back in time to deny him a shot on goal. Sos Suhana got on the end of a deep Borey cross, only to head the ball over the bar from close in. With three minutes of the first-half remaining, Pellegrino was at it again. A free-kick wide right was clipped into the middle, where Hong Pheng, unmarked, headed home to make it four without reply. 

The second-half opened with an elbow into Pellegrino's face from Hamza that went unpunished. However just four minutes in and AEU were again on the back foot. A quick one-two between Leng Makara, on for the injured Sokumpheak at the break, and Bisan sent the Nigerian striker into the box and he lashed the ball inside the near post for a fifth. Kelechi broke down the middle but his finish lacked power, while Pellegrino tried his luck but his effort sailed well wide. On 64 minutes, Borey weaved past two players, slotted in Thourng Da on the left and he unleashed a rising left-foot drive into the roof of the net for a very rare goal for the full-back. Bisan missed a sitter when he steered Makara's pass wide of the target, but Mathnorotin made no mistake when he sent a quick-fire shot beyond Yaty's reach for an AEU consolation with twenty minutes to go. A mistake by Obadin nearly cost Crown but Ouk Sothy's acrobatic goal-line clearance from Hamza's chip was face-saving for his teammate. Kelechi also stung the fingertips of Yaty as AEU never gave up trying. Bisan's chipped ball to Pellegrino nearly came off but he was tackled as he shaped to shoot, while Bisan's powerful header from Borey's corner was nodded off the goal-line in a scramble. Thirty-three minutes into the second period and Bisan latched onto an Obadin long ball, out-muscled two defenders and slipped his shot neatly under Theara. Pheng moved forward to send a low drive past the far post and then Bisan stroked the ball home from Pellegrino's pass, but the linesman's flag mistakenly ruled it out for offside, video replays suggesting anything but. Bisan was not to be denied and on 83 minutes he controlled Da's forward pass on the half-way line, left two defenders in his wake and rolled his shot past Theara, celebrating his hat-trick goal with a double somersault.   

With just three minutes to go, Bisan stroked home his fourth from the penalty spot. Pellegrino slotted in Ly Morslim and as he recovered from a tackle, AEU keeper Theara came flying out of his goal, two-feet first and caught him on the side of the knee. In anyone's book, a straight red card, but it didn't even warrant a yellow according to referee Chy Samedy. Though he did give a penalty-kick which Bisan dispatched, to take his season's tally to ten. There was still time for Suhana to blast well over, for Pellegrino to break clear but to be denied by Theara's feet, legally this time, and then for the keeper to catch Chhom Pisa's drive in mid-air. A 9-1 drubbing as Crown returned to the top of the C-League table after NagaCorp went down to Army in the game before this one.
PPCFC v AEU: Yaty, Da, Pheng, Sokheng, Obadin, Sokumpheak (Makara 46), Sothy (Pisa 77), Suhana, Borey (Morslim 79), Pellegrino, Bisan. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Dara, Srin. Bookings: Sokumpheak, Pisa. MOTM: Pellegrino - a debut to remember in oh so many ways. Tough on 4-goal Bisan. Goals: Obadin (21), Pellegrino 2 (24, 27), Pheng (42), Bisan 4 (49, 78, 83, 87 pen), Da (64).

Victory in China

PPCFC line-up, back row, LtoR: Mesa, Senteang, Chanpolin, Sodavid, K Chhaya, Sovann (capt). Front Row: Titchhy, Ponvuthy, Noeut, Piphop, Baraing - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 2 Guangdong FA China 1 (Asia U-16 Champions Trophy).
Phnom Penh Crown Academy recorded their first ACT success, and they did it the hard way, winning 2-1 on foreign soil. After going through last season’s competition without a victory, that all changed Saturday afternoon in Guangzhou, China. Against the Provincial FA Academy, Bouy Dary’s youngsters showed they learned lessons from last year and did moire than enough to win the opening game of this season’s Trophy. Crown dominated much of the possession and most of the chances in the first half, and though the second half was effectively ruined by torrential rain and strong winds, goals by Chhuot Senteang and captain Ouk Sovann carried the Khmers  through to success.
Crown began strongly and Pov Ponvuthy tested the Guangdong keeper with a thirty-yard drive that he tipped wide in the fifth minute. Suon Noeut and Kim Chhaya pushed up from full-back and sent shots wide of the mark before Seut Baraing’s long through ball nearly fell kindly for Sraing Titchhy, but the keeper intervened. In Sodavid back-headed the ball into the net from Sovann’s free-kick on 12 minutes but the linesman’s flag was raised and the effort didn’t count. Soon after Senteang latched onto Sodavid’s pass but was challenged as he shot and his mistimed drive rolled a few yards wide. With 22 minutes gone, Crown hearts stopped briefly when the referee from Malaysia gave the home team an indirect free-kick on Crown’s six-yard box, judging Sovann’s touch to keeper Sem Mesa as a back-pass. As the team lined up on the goal-line, Guangdong rolled the ball across the face of goal but Mesa was out quickly to smother Li Canming’s shot and the danger was averted. Orn Chanpolin and Titchhy tried their luck to no avail, until Crown deservedly got their noses in front. On 35 minutes Sraing Titchhy spotted Chhuot Senteang’s run from the halfway line and as the striker approached the penalty area, he lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and into the empty net. A calm finish and one which Crown were worthy of. Ponvuthy tried his luck again from distance but the shot was deflected before Baraing robbed a defender in his own box when he failed to clear a corner, only to see his left-foot fizzer miss the near post by a few inches. The last action of an enthralling first-half came when Titchhy chipped a lovely ball into Senteang’s path in the box, only for the home keeper, Pang Jiajun to smother the ball at his feet. Half-time, 1-0 in favour of the Crown Academy and looking good for their lead.

In the second minute after the restart, Crown pressed again. Chhaya’s shot from a corner and pass by Sodavid, was hastily cleared from the goal-line by Tang Ruiqian and Chhaya sent the resultant corner well over the cross-bar. With the floodlights on as dark clouds grew overhead, Senteang robbed a defender and broke into the box, only to be tackled as he shot. At the other end, Mesa was off his line smartish to deny Liang Jinhun. Within seconds, Guangdong unsportingly failed to return the ball from a throw-in, pressed quickly and it needed a saving tackle from Sovann to deny Chen Guokang. After a couple of minutes of very heavy rain, referee Syed Kamar called the two teams off the pitch for a ten-minute break while the rain subsided. It did briefly but continued from the restart and well beyond the final whistle, being joined by thunder and lightning late on. The pitch became waterlogged in places and made it impossible for either team to play football. Sovann tried his luck with a forty-yard free-kick but it sailed wide, as most of the play was stuck in the middle of the park.
With ten minutes of normal time remaining. On the pitch for less than a minute, Vat Samnang was sent clear by Chhaya and the Guangdong keeper came out and flattened him, just outside the area. A yellow card was deserved and only the presence of a defender saved him from a red. Up stepped captain Ouk Sovann and with one of his trademark inch-perfect free-kicks, his dead-ball effort was too strong for the keeper to keep out and Crown went two goals ahead. Crown players were going down every few minutes, most of them with cramp, not helped by the previous day’s full-day of flying and sitting in airports. Guangdong netted in the final minute of normal time when the ball dropped like a stone in the area and Liao Jintao forced it home. In the four minutes of injury time, Li Guohao’s inswinging corner was tipped onto the bar by Sem Mesa, who then dived bravely at the feet of Chen Junzhou to see out the match and a Crown success, celebrated by the players with knee and body-slides across the waterlogged pitch.
PPCFC v Guangdong: Mesa, Noeut, K Chhaya, Baraing, Sovann, Chanpolin (Chanchav 87), Sodavid, Piphop (Rozak 68), Ponvuthy (Muslim 82) Titchhy, Senteang (V Samnang 76). Subs not used: Chanvuthy, S Samnang. Bookings: Titchhy. MOTM: Baraing – rock solid throughout, though it was a tough choice as so many players performed admirably. Goals: Senteang (35), Sovann (80).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Metfone round-up

NagaCorp sit atop the Metfone C-League table at the midway point of the football season. Their experienced team, led by former national team coach Prak Sovannara, have lost just one of their eleven matches completed and are a point ahead of four-time champions Phnom Penh Crown, who have a game in hand over the league leaders. The top match of last weekend was NagaCorp’s meeting with Asia Euro University at the National Olympic Stadium on Sunday. AEU’s recent run of four wins in their last five outings gave the game added spice and it didn’t disappoint. George Kelechi gave AEU the lead just before the half hour and Choun Chum volleyed home the equaliser ten minutes later. AEU then spurned the chance to win the game when Naga goalkeeper Samrith Seiha saved Mohammed Hamza’s penalty kick. It ended all-square.
Phnom Penh Crown came out of the blocks after a week off and opened the scoring against lowly Western University on 22 minutes at the Army Stadium. Captain Khim Borey’s free-kick expertise did the damage. However, Crown found Western goalkeeper Ngoy Boranoch in inspired form and that proved to be the only goal of the game, thanks to the custodian’s super saves from Leng Makara and George Bisan. Crown meet AEU this coming Sunday in another mouth-watering clash, while leaders NagaCorp will face a resurgent Army. Without their talismanic winger Chhin Chhoeun, playing in a charity match in Indonesia with Crown's Hong Pheng, Army might’ve feared their National Police opponents but they didn’t show it. They edged in front through Phourng Soksana and then clinched the three points when Ung Dara netted their second on 66 minutes. Police will hope for better fortune when they meet Kirivong on Saturday. The Takeo-based team aren’t enjoying the best of seasons, and succumbed 1-0 to TriAsia last weekend, with an early Suong Virak goal the decider. That single goal success for TriAsia moved them up to fourth place in the league standings ahead of this weekend’s match against Build Bright United under the Olympic Stadium’s floodlights. BBU are one place behind them in the table and will be buoyant following their regulation 3-0 defeat of bottom-club Albirex Niigata last Saturday, courtesy of goals from Rim Bunhieng, Omokafe Adeyanku and Prum Putsethy. Svay Rieng and Boeung Ket had last weekend off and will return to action with games against Western University and Albirex Niigata respectively. The Rubbermen of Boeung Ket lie in third place with a game in hand over most of the other teams, while reigning champions Svay Rieng languish in ninth spot, with two matches to catch up.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bassac come out on top

PPCFC v Bassac, back row, LtoR: Sakrovy, Sovannaroth, Chanchav, V Samnang, Phearath, S Samnang. Front: Rozak, Muslim, Nuron, T Chhaya, Saphy - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 3 Bassac 5 (Friendly).
The first of two friendly games on Sunday saw the Academy team, with most of the younger U-14s getting a game, go down to an experienced Bassac team. Two early goals scored by Mat Nuron and Mat Sakrovy, and Yeu Muslim netted in the 2nd half. Crown hit the woodwork three times, but found Bassac's speedy winger too hot to handle. 
Full match report to follow.

Senteang nets 3 in final warm-up

PPCFC v CMAC, back row, LtoR: Sodavid, Titchhy, Senteang, Chanpolin, Sovann, Mesa. Front: Noeut, Ponvuthy, Baraing, Rozak, K Chhaya - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown Academy 8 CMAC United 2 (Friendly).
In their final practice game ahead of next weekend's opening Asia U-16 Champions Trophy match in China, the Crown Academy gave the CMAC team a footballing lesson. Orn Chanpolin struck the post early on with a penalty kick after a handball but Seut Baraing made no mistake with a fiercely-struck free-kick from distance on 12 minutes. Despite a CMAC leveller, In Sodavid played in Sraing Titchhy and he fired in on 19 minutes. Pov Ponvuthy provided the pass and Chhuot Senteang provided the exquisite chip over the keeper to make it 3-1 on 36 minutes. Three minutes later, Ponvuthy's strike went in off the cross-bar. 4-1 at the break. Thirteen minutes into the 2nd half and Ouk Sovann came up with another of his trademark specials, a dipping 25-yard free-kick over the wall and into the corner. Three minutes later, Sodavid's shot took a deflection on its way in. On 73 minutes, Titchhy set up Senteang for his second and he collected his hat-trick goal with the final kick of the match, finishing off a pass from Vat Samnang.

Full match report to follow.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pellegrino in charge

PPCFC v TriAsia, back row, LtoR; Ary, Sokumpheak, Pisa, Kim, Sovann, Ngwa. Front Row: Pellegrino, Titchhy, Morslim, Sosela, Dara - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 5 TriAsia 'B' 1 (Friendly).
To give the players who didn't play on Saturday for their respective teams in the Metfone C-League, Crown took on TriAsia at the RSN Stadium this morning in a practice match. Getting a run-out for Crown was former Australian League midfielder Adriano Pellegrino and his impact on the game was substantial to say the least. The teams played three periods of thirty minutes and Crown took control early on to dominate possession and chances throughout the match. Pellegrino threaded a pass through to Ly Morslim for a thunderous finish with just three minutes played and the ex-A-League star then whipped a free-kick against the post from the edge of the box. Jeongho Kim moved up from defense to send a header wide of the mark when it seemed easier to score, and Ngoy Srin blasted a shot over the top when very well-placed. On 22 minutes, Pellegrino showed what he can really do with a drilled 30-yard power-drive that evaded the keeper outstretched hand for Crown's second. Baldwin Ngwa, still keen to bag a contract for the 2nd half of the season, thrashed a shot against the cross-bar and with half an hour on the clock, the Cameroon striker controlled and lashed the ball home from an angle, after Pellegrino's pass had picked him out a treat. Kim moved up front and within 37 seconds of the restart had a shot saved. Eight minutes in and Pellegrino doubled his tally. Ngwa was brought down and the A-Leaguer stepped up to drill his 25-yard free-kick past the TriAsia keeper with consummate ease. On 49 minutes, Pellegrino placed a pin-point dead-ball onto Kim's forehead and he headed powerfully in at the far post. In under a minute, TriAsia had reduced the deficit when Kim Chhaya turned a cross into his own net. Yok Ary made a good diving save at the start of the third period, while Ly Morslim was sent clear by Vat Samnang only to steer his shot against the foot of the upright. In Sodavid crashed a 20-yard shot against the cross-bar, and Ngwa had a header saved only for Morslim to nod the rebound past the post from close-in. In the last moments, Samnang looked to have scored after a mazy run but his shot slipped wide of the far post.

PPCFC v TriAsia B: Ary, Dara, Titchhy (K Chhaya 31 (Morslim 61)), Sovann (Baraing 31 (Senteang 57)), Kim (V Samnang 61), Pisa (Sophat 61), Sokumpheak, Pellegrino, Sosela, Morslim (Chanpolin 31 (Sodavid 61)), Ngwa. MOTM: Pellegrino - 2 goals and 3 assists. Goals: Morslim (3), Pellegrino 2 (22, 38 ), Ngwa (30), Kim (49).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Borey nets decider

PPCFC v Western, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Oliveira, Makara, Srin, Bisan, Yaty. Front Row: Da, Suhana, Sokheng, Sothy, Borey - click to enlarge
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 1 Western Uni 0 (Metfone C-League).
Phnom Penh Crown were back to winning ways after a week's absence from the Metfone C-League, with a single goal success giving them the three points against struggling Western Uni. Without four regulars, it wasn't a vintage Crown performance but they dominated for much of the game, creating most of the goal-bound opportunities and earning Western goalkeeper Ngoy Boranoch the man of the match plaudits. Very early on Sou Yaty had to race off his line to clear the danger as Uch Chamroeun broke but that was really all we saw of Western as an attacking force until the final minute of the first-half. Khim Borey fired a salvo well wide, George Bisan turned and fired goalwards, but only into Boranch's safe hands. On 22 minutes, captain for the day Borey played his part in giving his team the lead. A foul on Sos Suhana 25 yards from goal and central was the sign for Borey to pull the trigger with one of his dipping dead-ball specials as it avoided the wall and arrowed into the top corner. A great strike. Moments later a cross from the right by Ngoy Srin took a bad bounce on the uneven turf, hit Boranch's calf and missed the goal by a matter of inches. Borey flicked a near post header into the keeper's gloves, Bisan also put a header too central and then tried an overhead kick from 20 yards out that was easily collected. The final word of the opening half went to Western's Privat Mbarga who sent a free-kick from distance just past the upright.

The second half resembled the first, Crown clearly in the ascendency, with Suhana sending a low drive a few feet wide and Chhom Pisa firing well over, before Mbarga took advantage of some slack control and brought a flying save out of Yaty in a rare attack from the University outfit. Ouk Sothy's drive was blocked, Leng Makara was tackled before he could shoot close in, Pisa sent one over the top again and so did Makara, after Thourng Da set him up at the far post, just six yards out. Boranch was back in the spotlight, as he saved low down to deny Borey's header, and then watched as another Borey free-kick curled just over the bar. Western's No 1 came to the rescue to get a strong fingertip touch to Makara's shot, and thirty seconds later, Makara turned in Da's fine run and cross, only to see the flag raised for offside. With ten minutes to go, Bisan broke clear after a cheeky nutmeg and only Boranoch's strong hand kept the goal intact as he forced the ball over the bar. Seconds later it was Odion Obadin's downward header that the keeper smothered and with five minutes to go, he pulled out what might be a contender for save of the season. Borey fed Bisan and he took a touch before unleashing a unerring thunderbolt from outside the penalty area, only to see Boranoch fling himself full length to palm it around the post. Breathtaking. The Western goal was leading a charmed life as another corner found Obadin's head and as it bounced, Borey nipped in to deflect it over the bar from inside the six-yard box. Bisan tried an audacious strike with the outside of his boot, but it rebounded off the bar, as the linesman flagged for a move that was clearly onside. In the first minute of injury time, Mbarga sped into the box and went tumbling over, claiming a touch by Obadin and screaming for a penalty. Referee Chy Samedy thought otherwise and booked him for simulation. And that was it. Three more points for Crown as they keep the pace in second place.

At the final whistle, coach Sam Schweingruber wasn't overly impressed. "Three points is what we needed. Towards the end of the game we had a few moments where we looked like we would score again, but I'm really disappointed that we weren't creating chances until the end. Their keeper pulled off two excellent saves and we scored a goal that was 50/50 offside or not - but up to then we were struggling to break down their defence. We didn't really combine together or have the flow I expected us to have. Obviously its a repetition of a problem we had against Police, TriAsia and Naga, and we have to look as a team how to create more chances and score more goals. There's no point in talking about the terrible field, we all know what it's like. Happy for Borey, who scored 3 free-kicks in training yesterday, so I was really pleased with his game-winning goal, scored with his new boots too."
PPCFC v Western: Yaty, Da, Srin, Sokheng, Obadin, Sothy, Suhana, Oliveira (Pisa 51), Borey (Morslim 93), Makara (Sosela 90), Bisan. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Chanpolin, Titchhy, Dara. Bookings: Obadin. MOTM: Borey - a captain's role and match-winner. Goal: Borey (22).

Friday, May 9, 2014

Weekly Round-up

Click to enlarge and read
The Khmer Times newspaper, in print and online, carries my football round-up of the Metfone Cambodian League @