Sunday, March 15, 2009

All smiles at Olympic

All smiles for hatrick hero Jean-Roger Lappe Lappe. You can tell he's an important asset - he's surrounded by security personnel
Saturday afternoon is reserved for football here in Phnom Penh and so it was off to the Olympic Stadium to watch the two semi-finals of the Hun Sen Cup competition, a precursor to the start of the Cambodia Premier League. There's quite a bit of money on offer for the winners and all the professional teams here go into the hat with the lesser lights, so there's always that chance of a giantkilling. However, this year's cup semi-finals came down to the four best teams with Phnom Penh Crown the obvious favourites. They won the league and cup double last year and look set to do the same this season too. In Jean-Roger Lappe Lappe they have a Cameroonian striker who has power, pace and quality finishing skills and he was the dominant factor in the first of the two semi's yesterday. His hatrick sealed a 4-0 win for his fancied team against Preah Khan Reach, who are no slouches themselves with four national team players in their line-up, but on the day they were no match for Lappe Lappe and his teammates. Barring a disaster, they may as well pick up the cup now instead of waiting for the final on the 28th - just kidding. In the second semi, Naga Corp saw off the navy boys from Phuchung Neak, 2-0, in a closer encounter, but still a little one-sided. So the final will be Phnom Penh Crown (formerly Empire) and Naga Corp and should pull in a good crowd on Saturday 28th March.
Phnom Penh Crown line up before the semi-final. Their team included national players Chan Rithy, Thul Sothearith and Teing Tiny.
The other victorious semi-finalists, Naga Corp. They included national team captain Kim Chanbunrith and Sun Sovannarith.
Perhaps more importantly, I had a brief chat with the Cambodia national team coach Prak Sovannara (pictured) who was casting a watchful eye over members of his national team that were playing on the pitch below. With the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying group games coming up in Bangladesh very soon, he's already got his squad together, five days a week, putting them through their paces and expects to take a squad of 18 players to the three-game tournament next month. With three of last year's squad retiring, he's called six new players into the training camp, including two from Phnom Penh Crown and a striker from Naga. The matches will be against the hosts Bangladesh, Myanmar and the winners of Macau or Mongolia, who will play a pre-qualifying decider beforehand. If I can fit it in, I'll try to pay a visit to one of the national team's training sessions next week.



Blogger CHAMROEUN said...

It will be hard work for Phnom Penh Crown to face Dordoi-Dynamo from Kyrgyzstan, the winner 2006 and 2007, finalist 2005 and 2008 of AFC President Cup.

March 16, 2009 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Yes I agree, however Phnom Penh Crown are the best club side we can offer at the moment, so they are definitely our first-choice representatives, based on last season and also this season to-date in the Hun Sen Cup.
They will find the team from Kyrgyzstan very tough opponents in Group C of the AFC Challenge Cup 2010 qualifiers, alongwith Kanbawza FC of Myanmar and Bhutan's Yeezdin FC.
Not exactly names that roll off the tongue! The games will be played sometime in early-to-mid May.

I see that Jean-Roger Lappe Lappe, the hatrick hero in the Crown semi-final success over Preah Khan Reach was last year plying his trade with the navy side Phuchung Neak before joining the Crown squad towards the end of last season's league campaign. I can't find out anything else about the French-speaking Cameroonian striker - who looks geared to set alight the final on the 28th with his pace, power and quality finishing. He was by far the most impressive player in the two semi's on Saturday.

March 16, 2009 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger CHAMROEUN said...

wish PPCrown make the first history for Cambodian football in AFC President Cup.

U kno, i'm so sad this season because my two favorite teams, ex-Khemara and National Defense lost game..

March 17, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Yes I have a soft spot for the National Defense team too especially with Samreth Sieha in goal and Khim Borey up front, and of course they are all home-grown talent with no foreign influence in their team.
The African contingent make a big difference to some teams, take Phnom Penh Croiwn for example who relied on their goal-machine Lappe Lappe on Saturday to win through to the cup final, as well as their midfield powerhouse Koua Mpoko, another Cameroonian player who used to play for Phuchung Neak last year.

I hope to catch a national team training session this week to suss out the new players added to the training squad in preparation for the forthcoming games in Bangladesh. See my blog post from today.


March 17, 2009 at 2:41 PM  

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