Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crown lose heads in final

Photo by: Andy Brouwer
Crown players look towards the Taipower bench moments after their AFC President’s Cup final at the Kaohsiung National Stadium.

Phnom Penh Crown saw their record-setting run in the 2011 AFC President’s Cup end in heartbreak after a 3-2 defeat to hosts Taiwan Power Company in Sunday’s final in Kaohsiung, which was marred by a triple sending off for the Cambodian side during injury time.

The game finished in controversy, as Crown players violently clashed with Taipower team members following a 94th minute denial of a penalty by referee Marai Mohammed A Alawaji. The incident, which involved Taipower defender Tu Ming-Feng tripping Crown’s Hong Rathana in the area, saw Sun Sovanrithy, San Narith and Chan Chaya unable to control their anger at the decision, with clear pushes on the Saudi official warranting straight reds.   

Highlights of the match posted on youtube (account djcowboy416, video length 13:11) seem to support the infuriation of the Cambodians, including a 62nd minute penalty given against them when Chen Po-Liang appeared to dive over the outstretched leg of Odion Obadin.

Despite Taipower midfielder Hung Kai-Chun blasting the spotkick over the bar, the home side capitalised on poor defending from the visitors to clinch their inaugural title. Goals included a brace by He Ming-chan and a strike from tournament MVP Chen Po-liang.

Crown had equalised in the first half through Nigerian striker Kingsley Njoku, and had given themselves a glimpse of hope in the 82nd minute via a Sun Sovannrithy header.

Following the conclusion of Sunday’s clash, He Ming-chan secured the Golden Boot trophy as top scorer with a total of six goals while Kyrgyzstan club Neftchi Kochkor-Ata collected the Fair Play award. 
Crown head coach David Booth’s reaction was one of obvious disappointment. “We made too many mistakes today and it’s cost us,” he said in an post-match interview posted on

“We fought back in the game and in the last five minutes we could’ve equalized. The referee decided not to give us anything.

“It was a definite penalty, our player chested the ball down past two players and was brought down. The referee has got to be answerable for his decision, though I’d like to see it again. At the end, we saw the frustration of our players.”

Crown are likely to face stiff sanctions from the AFC for their ugly display after the final whistle, which may jeopardise their participation in the completion next year as reigning Metfone C-League champions.

In other news, Myanmar have made a formal application to allow their league winners to play in the 2012 AFC Cup, the next tier up from the President’s Cup. If confirmed, a champion club from Mongolia is likely to replace the Burmese team in next year’s President’s Cup.

Imo declares girls free night for Heartland

Success, they say brings forth special benefits. And that is the case with Heartland Football Club of Owerri whose historic Federation Cup victory over their more prosperous neighbours, Enyimba International Football Club of Aba, Sunday in Lagos has continued to attract bounteous returns ever since.

After the triumph on Sunday, the team did not return to Owerri immediately as was expected by their anxious fans back home. Imo state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha had ordered them to stay back in Lagos for a special flight which was eventually arranged for Tuesday, September 27. When the Arik Air plane that flew them to Owerri touched down at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport at 8.45 am, a large crowd including the state governor, was on hand to welcome them.
The state government through the commissioner for sports, Ken Emelu declared "a girls-free-night" for Heartland players "for making the state proud." This was greeted with a rapturous applause by the thousands that gathered at the airport. Emelu said to the players. "there is no law preventing you from frolicking tonight as you have brought glory to Imo State. Go and enjoy yourselves." He added that a lot of goodies awaited them from the government.
General manager of the club, Fan Ndubuoke thanked the state governor for his support to the team and pleaded with him to attend the team's matches in future.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Honourable Ben Uwajimogu who was also at the airport announced a N1million donation to the victorious Heartland players and their officials.
The players and officials were driven round the major streets of Owerri in a motorcade which included the state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who was marking his 100 days in office.
The governor waved to ecstatic fans who lined up the streets, saying Heartland's victory was a sign of greater things to come from his government, adding that the team would soon embark on a foreign training tour. The victory tour terminated at the government house for a formal reception by the governor..

source: the guardian

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta,Rooney,kaka,Ryan Giggs,pato,Ibrahimovic,Benzema,Falcao,Crouch,Hernandez,Fabregas….. The list is endless. These are modern day professional players that come to mind when we read the title “professional Soccer player”. And Rightfully so, they are part of the best at the moment. These players are different but share certain similarities that make them simply world class. Want to become one? Here are some tips and ingredients you need to procure to hit it to the top.
Becoming a modern day pro -footballer is a reality most people believe is way out of their reach, or  worse still, that of their kids. There are certain erroneous general assumptions that we have been used to hearing that further buffer that erroneous belief:
a)      You have to be extra talented and born a “footballer”.
b)       It runs in the family
c)       You must be very quick and explosive when running and playing the ball,
d)       You need to start in a renowned club as a youth to reach a professional status as an adult
e)      you must be very strong, tall and have abundant muscles everywhere to make it
f)       You must come from a poor family
g)      You must be a ball juggler
h)      It’s all about being “lucky”
……………… the list of misconceptions are endless and if they were true some of the above stars would not have made it!
A professional footballer by definition is someone who makes his or her livelihood (or a major part of it) playing football. In other words, football is his or her job. Can you or your child become a pro footballer? Well, I believe you have a brighter chance than you thought before now!
Let’s face it, certain factors / ingredients have to be present: You need to have at minimum some physical capabilities.  It’s a running and explosive sport, especially at the top, so working on your fitness can only be beneficial. Weighing 150 kgs at 1 meter 50 is not an advantage here, and you must have good control of your body organs etc.
Just have to Love the game, because the love of it will spur your creativity. The sheer love and pleasure inherent in playing the ball and achieving tasks like passing, dribbling, shooting is a base that must be there. It does not help starting out or encouraging your kid(s) to play football just for the financial benefits.
"Smart" Hard work, behind the scenes, and having fun whilst working hard is a very important Ingredient. Football is fun, but demanding physically and mentally. You need some luck, some say! Only as regarding sustaining serious injuries for example I feel!  But the fitter you are, the less prone you are to injuries (to a large extent)
If physically you are not as quick in motion as some of the above mentioned stars, then you should try being quicker mentally! For example, deciding what you want to do with the ball much earlier before the ball and the opponents come at you helps you execute quicker, and seem and actually play quicker.
When you watch the pro’s they seem often at the right place at the right time. It’s all about pre defined good positioning. Learn to position yourself well with and without the ball on the pitch and off you go. For example when my team does not have the ball, position yourself between the opponent and your goal keeper. When in possession quickly search to get into forward or wide spaces for example.
Discipline on and off the pitch is very important. Make a habit of getting minimum 8 hours night sleep daily, drinking enough water (2litres a day) Spare your body alcohol overload etc and you are helping yourself enormously.
Cultivate the hunger to always want to be better today at something, task or move than you were yesterday, and very importantly try to be as consistent as possible. Regularity in your passes, simple play in defensive areas and executing the above tips make you a better player.
Learn to really watch football, not just watch the game: See how the pro's execute their moves and the body movements they put into their actions and not just watch the end result of their actions. You will learn a lot from this.
Let’s be clear: if you think that to be a professional footballer you or your child need to have talents akin to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff etc. then you are setting yourself up for possible disappointments.
Not everyone can be like the above, but based on your own attributes after Evaluation you can now channel yourself, your kids to a particular area of specialisation that has to be perfected to make you the best at your game.
Evaluation? Ask yourself: how fast do I or does my child run? How quick does he learn and react? How quickly does he self-analyse situations? Is he good with his feet or hands? (Goalkeeper or field player etc.)
This analysis does not serve to tell you if you or your child will be a professional or not but it is aimed to help you know what direction or position on the pitch he has to be orientated to.For example, if he is very quick and relatively small you have a possible side midfielder, winger or second striker in your hands, If he is big, not very fast, physical and loves to have physical contact, use his size, then you have a possible central defender or defensive mid-fielder who has to be taught positioning to compensate for his lack of pace to succeed.
If he is very good technically (ease on the ball)sees free team mates slightly before his peers, can carry the ball with ease in his feet around while running,good accurate passes etc. well you guessed it right, you have a potential creative mid-fielder in your hands. Etc.
Next step; specialisation!
He now has to work to perfect his qualities as much as possible. Remember it’s a game (job) made up of 11 players (in a team) on the pitch. The competition is tough. So perfect what you are best at.
The most important ingredient, in success as a professional is the mental strength. Without this, it is almost impossible to succeed. Why? Few places available and too many aspirants. The strongest, mentally will reach the finish line and not necessarily the most talented.

Stop limiting yourself or your child to goal of reaching the level of the next Lionel Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo or he may never be them, but you could end up being better in your own way! Do not be afraid to dream and try. We all started out by dreaming and trying. Thats what got us to pro status!
Check this out: Gennaro Gatusso of AC Milan, Italy and the Italian national team is a world cup 2006 winner with Italy. He initially had very limited influence on the pitch in the early stages of his career, but went on to have a more successful career than Enzo Scifo of Belgium who was more technically gifted for example, simply because he perfected a department of the game (ball recuperation) and made himself one of the best defensive mid-fielders of the 2004-2006 era in Europe, if not the world. Same as Claude Makelele of France, Real Madrid, and Chelsea star. One of the best defensive mid-fielders the world has ever seen.
You or your child need not necessarily have to aim to be a Messi,Ronaldo,Rooney,Maradona or  Zidane as a professional, but a Gatusso,or Makelele  model could also get you there... Becoming a professional.
I must concede that some luck is needed, lucky to get scouted, lucky to be in form when it matters, lucky not to get injured, but if you do not shoot at Goal, luck will not take the ball from where it is and hit the Goal post and go in!
In conclusion, of course talent is important, physical build is also important, but there is nothing more useful as football intelligence. At the high level it’s all about quick, good decision making as regards what you do,when and how you do it!  on the pitch. Quick thinking is therefore more than useful. How often you make and execute the right decisions determines how good you are.

All the above named stars, professionals have these qualities and similarities. Good luck. End of lesson One on "Sunday’s soccer school" (S³)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


On arrival at Fengshan, there's a game already going on
What a shambles. The most important thing to go wrong today wasPhnom Penh Crown's final training session before the AFC President's Cup Final, which takes place at 7pm tomorrow night. We had delayed our session so that head coach David Booth and team captain Thul Sothearith could attend the pre-Final press conference. We put ourselves out for the AFC. After it finished, we headed to the Fengshan Stadium, some 40 minutes driving-time from the hotel, for our 90 minutes training session. It never took place. On the pitch when we arrived was a girl's match and they refused to budge. Frantic phone calls to the AFC and the local organizing committee produced no successful outcome, so the Crown squad were forced to train on the rubber athletic track surrounding the pitch. This made it impossible for David Booth and his players, especially his goalkeepers, to do anything other than stretches, running and passing. The day before the most important game in Crown's history and we are seriously disadvantaged by the local committee, who later called and said they'd made a mistake and sent us to the wrong location. My arse. We play against the host team, Taipower tomorrow and any advantage they can get, they will take . What a coincidence that we are sent to a training facility where we cannot train. The suits at the AFC have to seriously look into this fiasco or they will be tainted by the stench that is coming out of this very smelly situation.

But that's not all. At the team manager's meeting just after noon, rules and regulations are read out, everyone nods and it's sorted. Not on this occasion. Phnom Penh Crown have been drawn as the home team for the final. That effectively gives them first dibs on team colours, dressing room, etc. However, Taipower wanted to wear their second playing kit as they'd won their last game wearing it. The jersey is red, the same colour as Crown's. We stuck to our guns and said we will play in our first-choice kit. The AFC suits suggested Taipower wear their second strip and change their shorts, but the hosts complained that it would look "ugly." Then to our amazement, the AFC agreed to Taipower's request and rode roughshod over their own gentleman's understanding, making Crown change their complete playing strip and also the goalkeeper's colours as well. So much for being drawn at home. The hosts got exactly what they wanted and the AFC caved into their demands. I'm still scratching my head over how this was allowed to happen by the AFC suits.
"We won't accept this treatment, will we!" David Booth tells his squad
The surface only allowed stretching, running and simple passing
"Get a good stretch, you make history tomorrow." 
"Do you catch my drift," says coach David Booth, alongside Sun Sopanha
Khim Borey listens to head coach David Booth's words at today's shortened training session

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crown put one foot on final of President’s Cup

PPCFC squad lined up for CPL game
Phnom Penh Crown completed a thrilling 2-1 victory over Neftchi Kochkor-Ata in their AFC President’s Cup finals match yesterday at the Kaohsiung National Stadium in Taiwan. The Cambodians saw their Kyrgyzstan rivals, who beat them 1-0 in the group stage, reduced to nine men during the game and will now hold strong hopes of advancing to the grand final by overcoming reigning champions Yadanarbon of Myanmar tomorrow in their remaining group tie. Crown had the measure of things in the opening stages yesterday, coming close through Kouch Sokumpheak while Chan Chaya saw his penalty claim waved away for offside. On 34 minutes, Crown’s Nigerian striker Kingsley Njoku produced an exquisite chip over the Neftchi keeper to open the scoring. The Kyrgyzstan side were then reduced to ten men after Sardorbek Askarov was given a straight red for a flagrant foul on San Narith. On the stroke of half time, Njoku was tripped in the area only for Narith to see his spotkick saved. Shortly after the restart, Crown edged further in front through another delicate lob by Chan Chhaya. Neftchi chased the game well despite being a player down and managed to peg one back via an Iliaz Alimov strike on 80 minutes. However, Aibek Orozaliev also received his marching orders late on as Peng Bunchhay made a dramatic fingertip save in stoppage time to ensure Crown took all three points. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crown triumph

The Crown starting line-up. Back Row LtoR: Sovannrithy, Obadin, Tiny, Sopanha, Njoku, Bunchhay. Front Row: Narith, Sokumpheak, Chaya, Borey, Sothearith
It doesn't happen often but when it does, it's worth crowing about.Phnom Penh Crown beat Netfchi from Kyrgyzstan 2-1 this afternoon in their first Group B match of the final stage of the AFC President's Cup, here in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan. That's a very rare away win for any Cambodian team but in this particular case, it's a Crown team who are really believing in themselves and going from strength to strength under the leadership of head coach David Booth. And to be honest they should've made it even easier on themselves. With that win, they now have a great opportunity to progress to the final, if they can offer up a repeat or better showing on Wednesday, when they meet Yadanarbon, the reigning cup holders. However, the Crown coach wasn't over the moon with what he'd just witnessed. "Up until the last 10-15 minutes, we played well, we created lots of chances, good chances. However, I wasn't happy after half-time. I wasn't impressed in the 2nd half, as we didn't play the football I wanted us to play and we panicked in the last ten minutes - there was no need for it. It's a new experience for us to be winning towards the end of the game at this level of football. We need to address that. It's a big learning process for my young players. The last ten minutes took the gloss of the rest of the performance." David Booth is a hard man to please, and rightly so after his team came close to undermining all of their own hard work. With Neftchi reduced to nine men and four minutes of injury time ticking down, it needed a full-length fingertip save by Peng Bunchhay, diving to his right side, to keep out a low shot from Mamatov Bakytbek with Bunchhay getting a knee in the head for his troubles in the ensuing melee. Why the coach was unhappy is that he felt Crown had failed to capitalize on a handful of earlier chances.

Neftchi began the game with a couple of half chances including a break into the box by Tarasov Vadym though he fired weakly into the side netting. A scissor-kick by Kouch Sokumpheak fizzed inches over the cross-bar from Sun Sopanha's corner on 17 minutes but the game remained tight with chances at a premium. Neftchi picked up a couple of bookings for late tackles and were happy to hit the long ball to their front players rather than work it through the midfield. On 28 minutes Chan Chaya raced through and went down under the challenge of Neftchi goalkeeper Dzhalilov Zakir but instead of pointing to the spot, the referee acknowledged the raised flag of the linesman for offside. Next it was Crown's turn to look concerned when Orozaliev Aibek had space on the edge of the box and as he fired in his shot, Sokumpheak came out of nowhere to block his drive. Then on 34 minutes, Kingsley Njoku broke the deadlock. The ball broke in the center and Chaya slipped a pass into the path of the Nigerian striker who raced clear of the backline and produced a deft chip from twenty yards out as the keeper came to meet him. Five minutes later and Njoku had laid the perfect pass to Sokumpheak but his low drive found Zakir in top form to push his effort aside. With three minutes of the first half remaining, Bunchhay in the Crown goal was called on to spread himself to deny Askarov Sardorbek's well-hit shot with Odion Obadin then getting in a timely block to thwart Pavlov Pavel at the far post. Neftchi were reduced to ten men with a minute to go when Sardorbek's vicious kick at San Narith was deemed worthy of a straight red card by South Korean referee Kim Jong Hyeok. In time added on, Crown should've extended their lead after Njoku had chased down a long ball, rounded the keeper and been bundled over by Rakhmanjonov Ahrorjon in the box. San Narith took the spot-kick but Zakir dived to his right and saved, with the last kick of the half.

Kinglsey Njoku produced an explosive run three minutes after the break that needed another Zakir save to deny him, after the Crown strongman had swerved past three defenders and sent in a 25-yard rasping effort. Crown made their numerical advantage pay on 56 minutes as Sun Sopanha surged forward and split the defence with a superbly weighted pass for Chan Chaya to run onto, keep his cool, and lift the ball over the keeper's onrushing body. Chaya sank to his knees in celebration. With lots of room to exploit, Chaya was away again but was thwarted after a linesman flagged for a foul that only he saw. Crown received a wake-up call with ten minutes to go, as Peng Bunchhay parried a shot only for substitute Alimove Iliaz to nip in and score. Neftchi's cause wasn't helped by a second yellow and a red card for Aibek after a very poor tackle on Khim Borey with 84 minutes gone. In the final minute of normal time, two Crown substitutes Sok Sovan and Sok Pheng linked up to put in Sokumpheak by Zakir was alert and blocked his goal-bound effort. And then that last-gasp Bunchhay save meant Crown had held onto win and head to their second match on Wednesday in very good spirits.

Coach David Booth looked ahead to his team's second match against Yadanarbon. "In any competition where you put yourselves in a good position, we need to carry on and get a good result on Wednesday. The Myanmar team are a strong team. I know 4 or 5 of their players from my days as national coach and they will play fast and furious and are much more experienced than us. To be frank they will be much stronger than my team. But my team is improving every week, so it'll be a good game for us to have. If we show the same spirit, we can do well. We will always make chances because we have good speed in our team. There were muted celebrations from the players with the realization that the task was half complete, with Sun Sopnaha and Khim Borey selected for random dope testing and disappearing at the final whistle. Both had to stay behind at the stadium whilst the rest of their teammates went off to eat dinner back at the hotel.
PPCFC line-up: Bunchhay, Sovannrithy, Sothearith (Sovan 85), Tiny, Obadin, Narith, Sopahana, Borey, Chaya (Ratana 78), Sokumpheak, Njokum (S Pheng 77). Subs not used. Visokra, Dara, Sophanal, Vanthan, Virak, Sophat, H Pheng. Bookings: none.
The experienced Neftchi line-up who went down 2-1 to Crown
Peng Bunchhay gets ice treatment to his head at the final whistle 
The view from the Crown dug-out with 5 minutes to go
The dressing room team-talk by coach David Booth (dark blue)

AFC: PPCFC in Taiwan

At the stadium

Final words from Crown coach David Booth at the end of their training session
More photos from the training session by Phnom Penh Crownon the almost perfect playing surface at the Kaohsiung national stadium in southern Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei to be politically correct). All six teams were allowed a 1-hour session prior to their first games. The stadium was built in 2009 with over 8,800 solar panels on the roof, the first of its kind, and covers an area of 19 hectares. Construction took two years ahead of the World Games held two years ago.

This is the open-ended part of the stadium with the giant scoreboard
Assistant coach Prak Vanny with his two goalkeepers
Stretching exercises under the watchful eye of David Booth
Crown prepare pitchside for their training session
Kaohsiung national stadium - a horseshoe-shaped steel-rod structure with a roof covered with solar panels
The impressive sweep of the stadium's seating area
The stadium’s unique, semi-spiral shape imitates a dragon
Another view of the national stadium in Kaohsiung
The outside entranceway at the national stadium

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cambodia to go for broke

Thai and Cambodian U19 players stand over the injured Thai keeper during their AFF U19 Championship Group A match in Yangon on Tuesday. Thailand won 5-0 to leave Cambodia’s qualification from the group stage hanging in the balance.Photo by: Ung Chamroeun
Cambodia are set to face Singapore in their last group game of the 2011 AFF U19 Championship in Yangon today. While the Kingdom’s boys should be confident of grabbing a victory against the city-state side that have struggled throughout the competition and currently foot Group A, their chances of progressing to the semifinals for the first time remain slim.

Cambodia are on level pegging with Malaysia at four points a piece, but will require a massive win over Singapore to overcome the eight-goal difference they trail Malaysia by. However, in the unlikely event of Malaysia losing or drawing with the Philippines on Saturday, any kind of win will be enough to see the Kingdom through.

Group A toppers Thailand, who have won the competition twice previously but lost 1-0 to Australia in last year’s final, need just two points from their remaining two group fixtures to seal a semifinals berth. The Philippines and Singapore, meanwhile, hold onto a mathematical chance of advancing. 

The Cambodia versus Singapore match kicks off at 4pm today at the Thuwunna Stadium, while the Philippines versus Thailand clash runs concurrently over at the Aung San Stadium.

Cambodia were handed a 5-0 thrashing by Thailand on Tuesday, but the scoreline flattered their neighbouring rivals according to assistant coach Rith Dikar.

“The result could have been different had we been awarded a penalty kick to equalize [when 1-0 down]. After suffering this wrong decision, most of our players lost their focus,” he said.

Indonesian referee Oki Dwi Putra Senjaya had denied a penalty for a tackle in the box on Prak Mony Udom, and also waved away appeals for a similar infraction on Phanny I Rotha.

Cambodia also hit the bar twice during the match in which five different Thai players got their names on the scoresheet.

In yesterday’s Group B clashes, Indonesia heaped yet more misery on Brunei with a 10-0 demolition, while hosts Myanmar survived having two players sent off to pip Laos 1-0. Vietnam still head the group on goal difference.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Australian Club Rejects Kanu

Sydney FC is believed to have gone cold on a deal that would have seen former Arsenal and Nigeria striker Nwankwo Kanu play a 10-game guest stint in the A-League this season.

The recent signing of Socceroo Brett Emerton meant there is little money left in the kitty for the Sky Blues to sign Kanu, who now plays with Portsmouth in The Championship in England.
However, it is understood several A-League clubs are showing some interest in luring the prolific 35-year-old striker, who still has a year left on his contract with Portsmouth but is keen continue his career in Asia.

His representatives believe a guest stint in the A-League would position him well for interest from some of the big clubs in Japan, China, Korea and the Middle East.

Kanu's Australian agent, Zenith Sports and Entertainment Management, confirmed Sydney had shown some interest in the Nigerian, whose record speaks for itself.

"I think the fact that they signed Brett Emerton made it very difficult for Sydney to find room for Nwankwo," a Zenith spokesman said.

"It's a shame because he would be a huge hit. He is still a good player, as he has shown recently with Portsmouth."

Kanu would indeed be a big hit in Australia.

He has achieved wonderful things on and off the field.

During his stellar 20-year career, he has played for Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Bromwich and Portsmouth, winning three FA Cup medals, a Champions League, a UEFA Cup, Olympic gold medal and a Premier League.

Kanu was also twice winner of the African Player of the Year while off the field he is an ambassador for UNICEF and is widely regarded for his charity work

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kano Pillars F.C.

Kano Pillars Football Club is a Nigerian football club based in Kano. They play in the top division in Nigerian football, the Nigerian Premier League. Their home stadium is Sani Abacha Stadium. Kano Pillars FC was founded in the year 1990, the year professional league was started in Nigeria. It was an amalgamation of three amateur clubs in Kano State which gave birth to Kano Pillars FC.

Founded in 1990 from the combination of WRECA FC, Kano Golden Stars and Bank of the North FC, Kano Pillars achieved outstanding success by winning the 2007/08 Nigerian Premier League. Kano Pillars produced players like Abiodun Baruwa who has since played for Swiss, Austrian, Welsh and British Clubs and Sani Kaita who later plays for Sparta Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Another Prominent player is Ahmed Garba 'Yaro Yaro' who later plays for Akademisk Boldklub in Denmark. It was registered as a limited liability company with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria, and then registered with the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) as a professional football club.

2009 Champions League
They are also nicknamed "Ahly Killers" as they scored 2 magnificent goals in Egypt and drew with Al-Ahly Cairo in Egypt 2-2 and 1-1 in Nigeria, so the Ahly killers went to the Group Stage in the African Champions League on the away goals rule. They made it to the semifinals before being eliminated against fellow Nigerian team Heartland F.C.

Nigerian Premier League: 1 2008
National Second Division: 1 1995

Performance in CAF competitions
CAF Champions League: 2 appearances 2009 - Semi-Finals, 2011 - First Round

Current Players
No. Position Player
1 GK Nobas Omoregie
2 DF Isaac Hélé Hélé
3 DF Joseph Atang Thompson
4 FW Maurice Chigozie
6 DF Babale Alaye
7 DF Shagari Shehu
8 DF Moses Ogaga
9 FW Mohammed Gambo
10 FW Yaro Yaro
11 FW Kwame Amoah
12 MF Rabiu Muhammad
13 FW Victor Namo
14 MF Kingsley Elechi
15 FW Augustine Akpehe
16 MF Olabisi Adewu
17 DF Abdulwasiu Showemimo
18 DF Hillary Chukwu
19 DF Bala Mohammed (Captain)
20 FW Manir Ubale
21 MF Habibu Yunusa
22 GK Theophilus Afelo
23 FW Bertrand Lekama
24 MF Solomon Okpako
25 FW Dominic Duku
26 FW Sani Ahmed
27 MF Michael Okoyo
28 MF Abdullahi Abubakar
29 FW Jerome David
30 FW Aliyu Bawu
31 DF Nazifi Ammani
32 MF Alhaji Mohammed
33 FW Sunday Oboh
34 MF Gabriel Rueben
35 DF Harouna Ide
36 FW Habibu Yunusa
37 MF Munzali Yusuf
38 FW Anthony Kelechi
40 GK Sani Haliru

Head Coach Ladan Bosso
Assistant Coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cambodian U19s set for titanic tussle with Thais

  YangonCambodia’s U19 squad clash with neighbouring rivals Thailand today in the 2011 AFF U19 Championship in Yangon. Buoyed by their 0-0 draw with Malaysia and a 5-3 trumping of the Philippines, the Kingdom’s lads will fancy their chances against a favoured Thai side at the Youth Training Centre.
Cambodia’s Prak Mony Oudom (second right) sets up for a successful penalty during their game against the Philippines U19s. Photo by: UNG CHAMROEUN
However, they will need to avoid the lapse in concentration that saw them almost surrender a 4-0 lead against the Filipinos.

Should the Cambodians grab all three points from today’s fixture, they would be odds on to grab a place in the semifinals for the first time in four attempts since 2002.

“It’s time for us to set a record in the history of Cambodian football by struggling to win over Thailand,” said Cambodia U19  team assistant coach Rith Dikar. “We must think we can really [win over] all opponents.”

Preah Khan Reach striker Phanny I Ratha, who netted a hat trick against the Philippines on Sunday but admitting regret at missing many more chances, said he and his team-mates would “focus on the playing against Thailand.”

Preah Khan Reach owner and Football Federation of Cambodia Committee member Li Kimchhun has allegedly promised each player and coach US$300 each if they can win both today’s game and their last group match against Singapore on Thursday.

In today’s other Group A tie, Singapore take on Malaysia at the Aung San Stadium, with both games slated for a 3:30pm kickoff.

Yesterday’s Group B action saw Vietnam wallop Indonesia 6-1 to go top, while hosts Myanmar enjoyed a 6-0 romp over hapless Brunei.

  New order was established at the end of the three-month long Futsal League season in Battambang on Saturday as first time entrants Flying Crown took the honours in the men’s section at the expense of fellow debutants Flying Horse. Crown finished 4-2 victors in a well fought final played on the SALT Academy pitch at Battambang airfield.
Jerusalem team members celebrate their U16 boys futsal league title trophy after finals were held in Battambang on Saturday. Photo Supplied

The final showdown between these two newly formed teams followed their semifinal victories over well known heavyweights Dana Shop and Baitong FC. In a keenly contested third place playoff, Dana Shop prevailed 2-1 over Baitong.

Jerusalem, meanwhile, topped the boys U16 event, beating Corner Crown 2-1 in the final with the third place going to Catholic, who beat Dana Shop 5-1.

It was a mixed bag for FEDA teams in the girls categories. While FEDA made it to the finals of both the U13 and U16 competitions, they managed to win one and lose the other in nail-biting penalty shootouts.

In the U13 final, Chrey and FEDA and were locked 1-1 at regulation time before the latter won the spotkicks 2-0. In the U16 final however, FEDA and KMR saw full time end at 3-3 before KMR clinched the title via a 3-2 win on penalties to pick up their second trophy of the season.

Favourites were to the fore in both the boys U11 and U13 finals. Homeland proved too good for Adnan, winning the U11 title fight 6-2, while SOS Children’s Home came back from a goal down to beat Blue Cat 4-1 in the final of the U13s.

As many as 101 teams from Battambang province and surrounding areas took part in the 5-a-side futsal leagues which was spread over nearly three months and featured six divisions for men, boys and girls. The games followed official FIFA sanctioned rules.

The ANZ SALT League, which is the main attraction in a hectic Battambang football calendar, is scheduled to start in the middle of November.

I went to university to please my father -Nigeria Premier League hot shot, Jude Aneke

BY Emma Njoku 
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Until last year, the name Jude Aneke meant nothing in the lexicon of Nigerian football. But the graduate of Political Science from Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki took the Nigerian football scene by storm with modest Kaduna United, scoring a total of 20 goals, 12 of which he netted in his first season in the Premier League and eight in the Federation Cup to help his team to its first major trophy in the club's history.

Jude Aneke

With barely four matches to the end of the current league season, the Enugu State-born striker tops the scorer's chat with 15 goals and has accounted for three goals in his team's campaign in the CAF Confederation Cup and one in the Federation cup.

In this exhaustive interview with Saturday Sunsports, the consummate striker revealed that he went to the University just to please his father who has never supported his football career despite his rave reviews in the sporting press following his exploits in the round leather game.
The confident forward regretted that he is yet to get a look in by the national team coaches despite his heroics boasting that he's good enough to play in any team in the world. He spoke about his strong point as a striker, how he frustrates defenders, his dream and lots more. Excerpts.

How I started my football career
When I was in secondary school, I joined an amateur football club called Young Players Football Club. We used to travel to play against other clubs in other cities. That gave us a lot of confidence. When I finished my secondary education, I got admission into the Ebonyi State University. And while I was in the university I tried to combine academics with football and it was so strenuous. In my second year in the university, the then Coach of Enugu Rangers, Lawrence Akpokona, watched me in a State Challenge Cup match and after the game he asked me which of the Premier League clubs I had played for before. I told him I was playing for an amateur side and that I was a student. He was surprised and said, a student with this kind of mind. I remember that we played that match on Wednesday and I had an examination to write on Friday, two days later. And he said to me, how about playing for Rangers? And I said it wouldn't be possible because of my studies. I could not combine both. Even then, my father would not support me paying football. He would always tell me to concentrate on my studies and forget about football.

So while in the university, I played for my faculty and at NUGA Games. Everybody knew me on campus as a footballer. I always found time to train in the morning before going for lectures because I knew that at the end of the day I would play football. I knew that God gave me the talent. I went to the university just to acquire the certificate and to please my father.

Professional career
By the time I graduated from the university, Ebonyi Angels of Abakaliki, a Professional League team invited me after I scored against them in the State Challenge Cup final. I played about two matches with the team before the state government said they could no longer fund the team and disbanded it. I left for Anambra United. But I took ill after a while and left for Lagos to treat myself. When I recovered from the illness, I returned to Anambra United and played a few matches before somebody asked me to Kaduna United because the club needed an attacker. Within that period, the coach Maurice Cooreman spoke to me on phone and said, Jude they said you are a good striker come to Kaduna let me see you. That was how I came down to Kaduna. When I arrived at the training I told him that I was not a top striker but a support striker, I used to play from the flank. But after watching me in training, he said no, you have the potentials of a top striker, you have the heart. You will play as my point man. I said okay. We played a match, 2-Aside, and I was in the reserve team. Later they decided to draft me into the first team in the match against Kwara United last season. That morning, we had a light workout after which the coach announced the list and I was to start the match. He told me to simply play the way I played during the training match and reminded me that the fans would be expecting a lot from me.

That was my first match and at the end of the day I was voted the man of the match. Against Sharks I came in as a substitute and did the same in the next match. Then against Heartland in Owerri I was going to start but I sustained an injury and was out for about one month. When I came back from the injury, we travelled to Bayelsa United and I thought that I would play as a substitute, but coach started me in the match and I was surprised. But I accepted the responsibility as a professional. I scored my first goal in Kaduna United in that match. At the end of the season, I scored 12 goals in the league and eight in the Federation Cup making a total of 20 goals. This season I've scored three continental goals, one in the Federation Cup and 15 goals in the league making a total of 19 goals so far.

Personal Target
It is the dream of every player in the domestic league to play abroad, particularly, in Europe. As a striker, you need to score goals so that your goals can speak for you. The coach would always tell me, as a striker, keep on scoring so that you can get a professional deal in Europe. So I always try to put the ball at the back of the net.

Typical match day
Normally, I just wake up on a typical match day, pray to God and I tell myself, Jude, today you have to score. Sometimes, before the match, people would tell me, Jude today you're going to score and I would say, sure. Nothing bothers me. I don't think about anything. I don't even pray so much.

I'm not afraid of defenders
Yes, sometimes, I wish I didn't encounter certain defenders on he pitch. As a central striker it is usually difficult for you to score because you have to cope with a many challenges. You must be fast to beat two to three defenders and then the goalkeeper. It's even more difficult to meet the goalkeeper one-on-one and score. The toughest defenders I have met on the pitch are the defenders of Warri Wolves. Those two defenders are very tall and strong and they're very good in the air, Ike ThankGod and one Azubuike something (Egwuekwe). After the match, they came to me and said, guy do they pay you extra? They said no attacker had given them tough time like me before. I really defied their height and size. But I must confess that both defenders were the ones that really gave me tough times both home and away. But I'm not afraid of any defender because football has to do with strong mind. I frustrate defenders. I get then angry and make them lose focus. That way, I make things easy for myself.

Wish to play for bigger team
Yes, sometimes. I wish to play in a bigger team in Nigeria like Heartland, Enyimba, Dophins or Kano Pillars. Even last season I had contact from some of these clubs asking me to come and play them. But the fact that I play under a good coach that is very experienced and knows what is good for me, having been in Nigeria for so many years with a rich knowledge of Nigerian football, motivates me to remain with Kaduna United. He tells me, Jude work with me and I will make you. I would love to play in other clubs but right now, playing in Nigerian League does not really excite me. With the rate at which I'm going, very soon, by the special I shall get a good offer from abroad. Hopefully this would be my last season in Nigerian League because I'm having a lot of contacts from abroad.

Invitation to national team
I'm not surprised that I've not received a call up to any of the national teams. You know Nigerian football. A journalist once asked me, guy, you need to be in one of the national teams. But I'm not really bothered because the coaches in the national teams read the newspapers and watch the television. But for now, it does not disturb me whether I'm invited to the national team or not. My mind is just focused on how to leave the country to play abroad because I know that once you're a foreign-based player, they would be calling you, come and play. Nobody seems to have confidence in home-based players. But believe me, I can play in any club in the whole world. Just give me the opportunity. Football is a gift to me from God.

Graduate player
Being a graduate only gives me exposure but it does not add anything to my game. Education is quite different from football. Education only helps me to relate with people.

Father's impression about football career
My father has negative impression about my career as a footballer. But recently when he travelled abroad and came back, he was in a bank with my younger brother and somebody sent money from abroad to his mother and when she changed the money it was so much. And my father asked the woman what his son does abroad and she replied that he plays football. And he wondered, so playing football could be so lucrative. May be I should jut give this guy a chance to play football. People do call him to tell him how good I'm playing but he is hardly thrilled by the rave reviews I enjoy in the sporting media. I hope that on day, perhaps, when I move to Europe, he would change his mind and begin to support my football career.

My strong points as a striker
I'm good with the head. That's my strongest point as a striker. I score most of my goals with the head. And I'm physically strong. I can take on any defender on the pitch.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's all PPCFC this season

Academy 2 claim the top honour

A match-winning performance from Vat Samnang for PPCFC2
The two PPCFC teams hold aloft their cups and celebrate 
The Phnom Penh Crown Academy are the first winners of the First State Gold Investment Cup after this morning's fabulous final was beamed live to homes across Cambodia by the TVK television channel. But then again it was guaranteed that would happen after both of the Academy teams, PPCFC1 and PPCFC2, had won through yesterday's round-robin games to reach today's final. The hero of the hour turned out to be one of the smallest players taking part in the tournament, Vat Samnang, who hails from Battambang, and who turned 13 years old in May. Small in stature but big in heart and with a right-foot that adults would be proud of, his equalizer with two minutes of the final remaining was a stunning 25-yard strike that sailed into the top corner. It gave heart to his team, PPCFC2, and in the first minute of extra-time, he was on hand again to fire home what proved to be the winning goal for PPCFC2, who won 2-1 and celebrated by picking up their two-goal hero and throwing him into the air. The match proved to be a great advert for U-13 youth football and was a fitting finale to the cup competition that had welcomed the International Soccer Academy from Singapore to join with five Cambodian teams on the final day of action. The PPCFC1 team started the 10-minutes each way final with a point to prove after they lost 1-0 to their Academy teammates in the final match of yesterday's games. Yeu Muslim and Phoeun Sopheak both struck the woodwork early on and In Sodavid rounded the keeper but failed to find the finishing touch. In the second minute of the 2nd half, Sopheak found Mat Sakrovy in space and he made no mistake from close range to put PPCFC1 in front. That galvanised PPCFC2 into action and Vat Samnang and Seut Baraing both went close before Samnang's stunning strike from distance levelled the scores. In the first minute of four minutes extra time, Samnang stole in to score his second and PPCFC2 held out with keeper Kim Chhaya denying Yeu Muslim twice in the closing seconds. Cue the celebrations and presentation of the trophies by the guests of honour including FFC deputy president Khiev Sameth, former Chelsea manager Ken Shellito and PPCFC president Rithy Samnang. The ISA academy boys claimed third spot after beating CFO in their 3rd-place play-off, though every player that took part received a medal. Captain of the PPCFC2 team, Sraing Titchhy collected the main trophy as he and his teammates jumped for joy, soon joined by their PPCFC1 colleagues, also showing off their runners-up trophy. A great day for all, especially youth football in Cambodia.
There's usually winners and losers, but not in this cup, PPCFC are simply winners
The PPCFC2 squad line-up before the final
The PPCFC1 squad before the final of the First State Gold Investment Cup

Academy meet in the final

The PPCFC2 squad, who finished top of the table after the round-robin matches. Back Row LtoR: Baraing, K Chhaya, Ronaldo, S Samnang, Sovann, Titchhy. Front Row: Piphop, Phearath, Noeut, David, Ponvuthy, V Samnang.
The PPCFC1 squad, who'll meet their Academy colleagues in tomorrow's final. Back Row LtoR: Sovannaroth, Sakrovy, Chanpolin, Sopheak, Senteang, Chanchav. Front Row: Rozak, Sodavid, Muslim, T Chhaya, Chansopheak.
The two Phnom Penh Crown Academy teams coasted through to the final of the First State Gold Investment Cup after coming top and second in the round-robin matches that were played this afternoon. The final will take place tomorrow, Sunday, at 10am and will be screened live on TVK. The venue is the RSN Stadium in Tuol Kork. In fact the team registered as PPCFC2 finished in top spot with 10 points from 4 games after putting one over the PPCFC1 team in the very final match of the afternoon. They won 1-0, with Ouk Sovann scoring, much to their obvious delight at the final whistle as they threw their shirts into the air and danced around like they'd won the FA Cup. The competition was for 7-a-side teams of players who were thirteen years old or younger, and played on reduced sized pitches. The International Soccer Academy from Singapore made the trip though the two Vietnam invitees pulled out at the last minute. Empowering Youth Cambodia organisation in Phnom Penh filled in one of the vacant spots, joining with the U-13 Festival champions Cambodian Foundation Organisation from Kompong Chhnang, and the two teams from the Crown Academy. The day got underway with PPCFC1 beating CFO 2-0 with Phoeun Sopheak and Mat Sakrovy scoring. ISA won their first match 9-0 against EYC who found the opposition tough in all their matches. Sraing Titchhy netted a penalty as PPCFC2 did well to eke out a 1-1 draw with the taller ISA team. PPCFC1 then put 9 past EYC without reply, with Yeu Muslim scoring 4, Sakrovy 2, In Sodavid, Phoeun Sopheak and Ken Chansopheak 1 each. They then followed that with a 1-0 win in a close fought match with the Singapore Academy, Sopheak firing the winner through a forest of legs. PPCFC2 came from behind to beat CFO 4-3 in a nail-biting clash. Ouk Sovann 2, Titchhy and Pov Ponvuthy scoring the goals. Another victory for PPCFC2 came with a 5-0 success against EYC. Vat Samnang and Long Phearath scored before Men Piphop fired in a hat-trick. To round off proceedings, the final match saw the two PPCFC teams face-off against each other, which was a dress rehearsal for tomorrow's final. Temporary bragging rights go to PPCFC2, who made sure their colleagues knew about the 1-0 win both on the pitch and at the after-competition dinner at Diamond Hotel later in the evening. Overall fabulous entertainment played in the right spirit by all the teams.
The two PPCFC teams line-up against each other in the final match this morning
Men Piphop on target with a hat-trick of goals against EYC as PPCFC2 won 5-0
Sraing Titchhy takes the penalty kick that earned PPCFC2 a 1-1 draw with ISA from Singapore
Welcome to the RSN Stadium at Tuol Kork

Crown sink the U-23s

PPCFC in the 1st half. Back Row LtoR: Sothearith, Sovannrithy, David Booth (coach), Tiny, Bunchhay, Sopanha, Narith. Front Row: S Pheng, Chaya, Borey, Dara, Sokumpheak
PPCFC in the 2nd half, pose for a photo at the end of the game. Back Row LtoR: Ratana, Sophanal, Sophat, Visokra, Nwafor. Front Row: Vanthan, Sovan, H Pheng, Virak, Borey, Sochivorn 
This afternoon's match, on a totally soggy pitch at Olympic Stadium which made good football impossible and rendered the game almost meaningless, still counted as a good training exercise for Phnom Penh Crown as they prepare for next week's assault on the AFC President's Cup final round. It's typhoon season in Taiwan, so rain and soggy pitches might be the order of the day on the 19th when they play their first game at the Kaohsiung National Stadium. It began raining heavily an hour before the kick-off this afternoon and continued throughout the match, leaving large pools of water on the playing surface. However, that didn't stop the game going ahead, with Crown meeting Lee Tae-Hoon's Cambodian U-23 squad and giving them a 3-2 beating that will give the South Korean coach something to mull over. Crown on the other hand, played without their three regular foreign players, and led 3-2 at the interval, which signalled almost complete personnel changes for both sides, with no more goals coming after the break. The only player to play the whole 90 minutes was Crown's Khim Borey, back from his season in the Thai Premier League with Sisaket and on hand to tap home the game's first goal on 8 minutes, after Sou Yaty failed to hold Sun Sopanha's 25 yard free-kick. Borey may've been playing in midfield but he's lost none of his goalscorer's instinct whilst on his travels. It was all Crown in the first-half and Kouch Sokumpheak fired one from distance straight into Sou Yaty's hands and then saw his curling effort tipped around the post by a flying Yaty save. On 20 minutes, Khuon Laboravy was gifted an equalizer for the U-23's when Sun Sovannrithy delayed and then mis-cued his attempted clearance. Borey fired in a 30-yard effort which Yaty saw late and fingertipped around his post before Tieng Tiny fizzed an effort across the face of goal after Sopanha's shot fell at his feet. Sun Sovannrithy made amends for his earlier blunder by powerfully heading home Sopanha's chipped free-kick after 28 minutes to restore Crown's lead. It lasted less than ten minutes when Laboravy swung a cross to the far post and Chin Chhoeurn's well-timed volley crept inside Peng Bunchhay's near post. Yaty was in the right place to keep out Sok Pheng's swerving drive from thirty yards moments later. A minute before the break, Crown got their just desserts when Sovannrithy bounded forward to the byeline, touched the ball onto Chan Chaya and his left foot shoot was too hot to handle for Yaty at the foot of his near post. Crown went into the interval, 3-2 ahead though with bookings for Sovannrithy, Chan Dara and Sopanha.

Both coaches made wholesale changes at half-time, with just Khim Borey surviving in the Crown line-up. The U-23s put out a new team and both line-ups effectively cancelled each other out for much of the second period. A shocking offside flag by the linesman ruled out a neat finish from Hok Sochivorn and Hong Pheng raced onto a through ball and around the keeper but screwed his shot across the face of goal with Crown's best chances. The last word went to Crown's stand-in keeper Hong Visokra who made sure his team went home with the bragging rights by pushing out a Sophal Udom drive in the closing seconds. Despite the conditions, it was a good work-out for the players who had their stamina tested, ahead of the AFC President's Cup for Crown and the BIDC Cup for the U-23s. Crown coach David Booth has another week of preparation before he and his squad head out to Taiwan for the exciting finale to their already successful campaign.
Crown: Bunchhay (Visokra), Dara (Sophanal), Sovannrithy (Vanthan), Tiny (Nwafor), Sothearith (Sovan), Narith (Sophat), Sopanha (Virak), Borey, Chaya (Ratana), S Pheng (H Pheng), Sokumpheak (Sochivorn). Subs not used: Bunna, Rathanak. Bookings: Sovannrithy, Dara, Sopanha.
Cambodia U-23's: Yaty (S Sophea), Rady (Raksmey), Dalin (Pancharong), T Udom (K Vannak), Piseth (S Rithy), Sothearath (Chansothea), Phearith (O Kumpheak), Chhoeurn (Saray), Souhana (Soksana), E Vannak (Nasy (Sokly)), Laboravy (S Udom). Bookings: Kumpheak, Sokly.
The Cambodian U-23's at kick-off. Back Row LtoR: Laboravy, T Udom, Yaty, Piseth, Rady, Dalin. Front Row: Chhoeurn, Vannak, Phearith, Sothearath, Souhana
Coach David Booth issues the Crown players with instructions
A tv camera following Lee Tae-Hoon's every move 
An unusual team bench for the Crown substitutes, and without any cover from the driving rain

11 Players 1 Heartbeat

11 Players 1 Heartbeat - click to enlarge
Time for a new poster, this time with 11 of the Phnom Penh Crown players lined-up. See how many you can identify. No prizes for getting all eleven players.

After the event

I'm not sure if Sun Sopanha is worshipping at the feet of unbeaten coach David Booth
The next set of pictures are taken after the final whistle and before, during and after the presentation of the Metfone C-League Championship trophy to the Phnom Penh Crown team, alongwith their medals and cheque for $15,000. The presentations to individuals and the team in the first three placings took place on a stage at the center of the pitch and the VIP guests included the Minister of Sport, the city governor and the president of the football federation. The young boys you see in some of the pictures were allowed onto the pitch by the military police and as the cup was presented they all jumped up onto the stage, which should not have been allowed to happen. This was the players' moment, not the young boys, who should've been celebrating on the terraces with the other fans.
2-goal Kingsley Njoku take a rest with physio Chhin Sophorn applying the ice
David Booth with his coaching and medical team
Peng Bunchhay receives his $500 cheque as best Goalkeeper
David Booth gets carried away by his team as part of the celebrations
Happy Crown faces with the cup and their medals. LtoR: Kingsley Njoku, Ken Nwafor, Kouch Sokumpheak, Hok Sochivorn, Takahito Ota, Tieng Tiny
LtoR: Hong Pheng, Khim Borey, Sun Sovannrithy, Nim Bunna, Soeng Vanthan
Three of Crown's youngsters. LtoR: Nim Bunna, Hong Pheng, Penh Bunchhay
Peng Bunchhay proudly holds onto the C-League trophy
It's a family affair for defender Chan Dara (2)
Two of PPCFC's female contingent, Rumnea (white) and office manager ChhiCaught sneaking off with the trophy was Khim Borey and yours truly

Before kick-off

PPCFC coach David Booth jokes with his players before kick-off. He wasn't joking at half-time.
I have a few more photos from Sunday's action-packed afternoon including these pictures that were all taken prior to kick-off, both inside and outside the Phnom Penh Crown dressing room. For those who know no better, the dressing rooms at the Olympic Stadium might seem satisfactory but to be honest, they are appalling. Sunday morning park teams in the UK have better changing facilities than those at the Olympic Stadium. There are no showers, the fans are totally ineffectual and the rooms are like an oven, there are plastic chairs instead of benches, there is nowhere to hang your clothes, a crowd of faces look in through the windows as the players change, and so on, the list is endless. The 4th official, who should be checking for correct boots and kit, comes into the room to check each player has a jersey and that's it. Two teams who played the day before both had the same colour socks on, which is against the rules. There is a long road to travel before football in Cambodia reaches even the most basic level of professionalism you find in a country like the UK. I know it's comparing apples and pears but we must strive to improve or continue to remain in the international football wilderness. Even Phnom Penh Crown have much to do to improve. Take for example the playing kit. Up until now, each player takes home their own kit to wash and bring to the next game. I couldn't believe that when I first heard it. The players were also given the task of sewing on the CPL and Fair Play badges onto their sleeves, which resulted in all kinds of weird and wonderful badge locations. These are basic elements which we must change if we want to improve. If you think this is nitpicking, think again. Being professional in everything you do, starts with the smallest details.
"Now listen and listen good" just before the team leave the dressing room
Assistant coach Prak Vanny warms up his three Crown goalkeepers
Kouch Sokumpheak honing his sprinting skills before kick-off
Crown line-up with their same number Academy boys before the start
The players wait for the start and listen to the speeches
Skipper Sun Sopanha (right) asks the referee, "how much longer?"
The Crown team just prior to the handshakes and team photos
Final words of encouragement from head coach David Booth (white)

PPCFC on the radio

Soma modelling her new PPCFC jersey, alongside her guest for the evening
I had the opportunity to talk about Phnom Penh Crown with PUC Radio Talk Show host Soma Norodom last night during our hour and a half discussion that ranged from the football club, to sci-fi, to Vann Nath, to movies and much more in-between. Soma was very keen to find out more about how Crown are trying to change the face of football in Cambodia, putting it on a much more professional footing, especially with the introduction of the full-time youth academy. She's as keen as I am to see a big improvement in the development of sports amongst Cambodia's youth and the academy programme is a perfect example of this, providing quality skills coaching alongside focused academic development. She even offered to start-up a Crown cheerleader troupe. You can listen to Soma's nightly PUC radio show on 90.0FM.
The PPCFC jersey is out of the packet and ready to wear

The big moment

Click to enlarge - photo courtesy of Masayori Ishikawa
It doesn't get much better than this for Phnom Penh Crown'sstand-in captain Sun Sopanha, who took over the skipper's armband whilst Thul Sothearith was out through suspension. He collects the Metfone C-League Championship trophy from the Minister of Education, Sport & Youth, HE Im Sothy after Sunday's final match of the season.

Marching on Together

Nothing can stop us
Two more of the large posters of the Phnom Penh Crown squad that have recently been produced and can be seen on the walls and outside windows of the Crown Sports Bar on Street 200.
Marching on Together

Cambodia's Finest

Cambodia's Finest
Another of the posters that can be seen depicting Phnom Penh Crown squad members at the Crown Sports Bar on Street 200. This one features Khim Borey and Kouch Sokumpheak. More to follow.