PPCFC cup final line-up: Back Row LtoR: Njoku, Tiny, Sovannrithy, Obadin, Sothearith, Bunchhay. Front Row: Borey, Sokumpheak, Chaya Narith, Sopanha
Crown fall in the Final
25 Sept 2011
PPCFC 2 Taiwan Power Company 3 (AFC President's Cup Final in Kaohsiung)
Phnom Penh Crown lost 3-2 to Taiwan Power Company (aka Taipower) in tonight's Final of the AFC President's Cup. But the scoreline tells only half the story. With Crown pushing hard for an equalizer as the clock ran down into four minutes of added-on time at the end of a pulsating cup final, referee Marai Mohammed Alawaji from Saudi Arabia, waved away claims by the Cambodian team for what looked liked a certain penalty when Hong Ratana evaded two defenders in the penalty area but was caught on the ankle by Tu Ming-Feng. The referee was immediately surrounded by a posse of Crown players, incensed by his non-decision, and in quick succession, three players pushed the official. After order was restored and a consultation with his linesmen, Alawaji showed the red card to Sun Sovannrithy, Chan Chaya and San Narith for their actions. The final whistle blew soon after and as the Taipower players began to celebrate, one of their coaches instigated a mass brawl between players from both sides that quickly subsided but left a very bitter taste in the mouth at the end of a fiery cup final that also saw Taipower lose Yu-Lin Chen to a straight red card with 12 minutes remaining, for a shirt pull on Sok Pheng as he was running through on goal. Crown head coach David Booth's reaction was one of obvious disappointment. "We made too many mistakes today and it's cost us. 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. Overall, we did well. We could've lost by a bigger margin but we fought back and I'm just sorry for the players that they didn't get the chance to equalize."
Fielding an unchanged line-up for the third game, Crown went behind in only the third minute when Kuo Ying-Hung evaded Odion Obadin on the bye-line and his floated center was headed in by an unmarked He Ming-Chan. Despite that setback, Crown pushed on and Kouch Sokumpheak's bye-line cross was mis-controlled in the box by Chan Chaya, whilst a dangerous low center by Sun Sovannrithy was turned behind under pressure. On the twenty minute mark, Chaya's quick feet failed to control a Sokumpheak pass though the striker was upended by Chien-Wei Liang as the ball ran through to keeper Pan Wei-Chih. Crown's equalizer came on 35 minutes when Kingsley Njoku fired home from ten yards after Thul Sothearith's cross was chested down by Khim Borey in the box and Njoku applied the finishing touch. Yi-Wei Chen saw a header fizz well wide after he made a good run into a dangerous area, whilst Crown keeper Peng Bunchhay showed his agility to claw away a free-kick from Ying-Hung a few minutes before the interval. Njoku's forceful run was halted when his shot was blocked and Chaya's intended pass to Sokumpheak was cut out in the last action of the first-half.
As they'd done in the first-half, Taipower took the lead in the third minute after the restart. Po-Liang Chen evaded Tieng Tiny's challenge and fed He Ming-Chan, and the striker made no mistake with his sixth goal of the tournament, firing low across the face of Bunchhay in the Crown goal. Crown were certainly not finding favour with the Saudi Arabian referee, who booked Sothearith and Obadin but failed to reach for his cards for similar infractions by the home team. On 63 minutes, referee Alawaji felt he saw a trip from Obadin on Po-Liang Chen, though the defender, and his teammates, protested his innocence, but justice was done when Kai-Chun Hung skied the penalty kick high and wide. Njoku and Sokumpheak combined to harry the Taipower defence but to no avail and on 67 minutes, the host team increased their lead. Kai-Chun Hung's byeline cross was fumbled by Bunchhay and Po-Liang Chen was on hand to tap the ball home, much to the delight of the disappointingly small 3,238 home crowd. Crown introduced striker Sok Pheng from the bench and as he moved onto a Chaya pass, his shirt was pulled as he shaped to shoot and the referee had no alternative but to dismiss Yu-Lin Chen on 78 minutes. With Crown forcing the issue, a San Narith corner evaded the punch of keeper Pan Wei-Chih and Sun Sovannrithy had the easy task to nod home at the far post with seven minutes remaining. Game on. As the clock ticked over into four minutes of additional time, Narith's pass fell to Sokumpheak but his half-volley went straight to Wei-Chih, as did Obadin's header from a Chaya corner kick before the penalty appeal, that referee Alawaji waved away. The fracas that followed took the shine off a fabulous Crown performance in the competition that stumbled at the final hurdle but will be remembered for taking Crown further than ever before in the AFC President's Cup.
PPCFC line-up: Bunchhay, Sovannrithy, Sothearith, Tiny (Sovan 66), Obadin, Narith, Sopanha (Ratana 80), Borey (S Pheng 68), Chaya, Njoku, Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Visokra, Dara, Vanthan, Virak, Sophanal, Sophta, H Pheng. Bookings: Tiny, Sothearith, Obadin, Chaya, Sopanha. Sent off: Sovannrithy, Chaya, Narith.
The Crown players and coach David Booth before the start of the game
The Crown team and staff line-up to collect their runners-up medals
Taiwan Power Company celebrate their AFC President's Cup success