PPCFC line-up against PKR. Back Row LtoR: Tiny, Sovannrithy, Nwafor, Visokra, Njoku, Obadin. Front Row: Virak, Narith, Sokumpheak, Chaya, Sothearith.
Points shared in opener
2 April 2011
The Metfone C-League points on offer were shared as Phnom Penh Crown and Preah Khan Reach fought out a 2-2 stalemate in the season's eagerly-awaited opening match at the National Olympic Stadium.
The game started well for Crown. They were ahead on six minutes when Kingsley Njoku was left all alone eight yards out to head a debut goal from a San Narith corner kick. The Nigerian import celebrated with a triple somersault, which suitably impressed the watching audience. On 18 minutes, Njoku broke into the penalty area, appeared to be tugged back by Sok Rithy and went down, only for the referee to wave his arms for play to continue. Njoku was left scratching his head.
Khuon Laboravy proved to be a thorn in Crown's side and he managed to wriggle free on two occasions, only for his ground shots to be blocked both times by Crown goalkeeper Hong Visokra. Referee Thong Chankethya was seemingly blindsided and missed a handball by Suon Thuon, with the Crown players screaming for a penalty, only for the match official to award a consolation corner. Njoku could've made it two ten minutes before the half-time break, but his snatched shot was blocked by the outstretched legs of PKR keeper Ouk Mic and from the rebound, Chan Chaya's attempted lob from twenty yards just cleared the cross-bar.
An injury to Sun Sovannrithy on 53 minutes forced Crown to change their personnel, Chaya was booked for simulation when he played the ball through the defender's legs and was body-checked, and then four minutes later rolled his shot agonizingly wide after racing clear of the Preah Khan defence. Opposition striker Khuon Laboravy immediately rubbed salt in the wound by getting in front of his marker at the near post to head in a whipped cross from Nen Sothearoath two minutes after the hour mark. A few minutes later and Kouch Sokumpheak's mazy run into the box was halted unceremoniously but referee Chankethya was having none of it and waved play on, again.
On 77 minutes Sokumpheak's vision and touch allowed Chaya the space to race clear, keep his composure and place his shot neatly inside the far corner to restore the Crown advantage at 2-1. Four minutes later, with Tieng Tiny off the pitch and receiving treatment, Laboravy took advantage of his absence and shunted to the byeline, his low center was pushed out by Visokra and in the resulting confusion, substitute Phanny Y Ratha was on hand to tap the loose ball over the goal-line to level the scores at 2-2.
With five minutes remaining, a tussle with full-back Moul Daravorn, saw the PKR man barge into Chaya, who fell to the floor sparking a melee of players. Referee Chankethya deemed the incident worthy of a yellow card for both protagonists, which also meant a red card for Chaya who trudged slowly off the pitch, completely nonplussed by the decision, as was everyone else in the stadium. There was still time for Laboravy to send a looping header against the woodwork and for Hong Ratana to fail to connect to a Sokumpheak header at the far post in stoppage time.
PPCFC line-up: Visokra, Tiny (Dara 81), Sovannrithy (Sopanha 53), Obadin, Sothearith, Narith, Nwafor, Virak (Ratana 63), Chaya, Sokumpheak, Njoku. Subs not used: Bunchhay, Vanthan, Sophanal, S Pheng, H Pheng, Sophat, Sochivorn.
Bookings: Tiny, Chaya, Sothearith.
With only one game on Saturday, the C-League's opening week 1 - which was swapped with week 9 just a few days ago by the football federation in an effort to start the season with a glamorous match-up - Naga Corp will meet National Police in Sunday's top game of two, Kirivong facing Prek Pra in the other, whilst next Wednesday, BBU versus play-off winners Chhlam Samuth and new boys Rithisen against Army will provide the early season action.
The Crown squad huddle together for a final word before the game begins.
The Crown Academy boys who acted as mascots for the match.