Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cup final fever

The highlight of today's cup final - a female acquaintance, Sokun, entertaining the masses
Quickly back into the swing of normal everyday life after my week away with my brother Tim in the provinces of the northern reaches of Cambodia, I had a couple of hours at work this morning before lunch at Cafe Fresco's and then onto watch Cambodia's version of the FA Cup Final, in this instance called the Hun Sen Cup, played at the Olympic Stadium. It wasn't a classic by any means, with Phnom Penh Crown managing a solitary one-goal victory over Naga, as expected, but they made heavy weather of it. Their Cameroonian semi-final sensation Lappe Lappe was kept very quiet by Naga's skipper Om Thavarak, so it was left to his teammate Keo Sokgnan to edge out their rivals with a goal late in the second half. The crowd was a fair few thousand with the main stand brimming with row upon row of military personnel, boy scouts and fans of the two sides rented for the occasion and handed a t-shirt. The VIP area was overflowing with people only seen once a year at the cup final whilst deputy PM Sok An turned up ten minutes into the second-half to milk the applause. The pre-match warm-up was provided by a band with female singers, one of whom, Sokun, I knew from our recent late-night drinking sessions, so it was a bit of a shock to see her entertaining the masses. With some recent articles in the Phnom Penh Post - including a photo of national coach Prak Sovannara in Thursday's edition - I was able to legitimately claim a press-pass for the cup final, though Tim's was a little more dubious. Tonight we'll aim to watch England's footy friendly which kicks off just after midnight Cambodia-time, whilst the earlier part of the evening is reserved for making more new friends. Postscript: England won 4-nil, and Crown's reward for lifting the Hun Sen Cup was 70 million riel ($17,500).
Substitutes and press cameramen snap the soon-to-be-victorious Phnom Penh Crown team before kick-off
The two teams line up before kick-off at today's cup final as the stadium begins to fill
The main stand is reserved for military personnel and the like
More crowd-pleasing before the big kick-off from Sokun.
The Hun Sen Cup, the Golden Boot Award and Player of the Match trophies before kick-off

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