Sunday, June 14, 2009

Inspired by Sokumpheak

Kouch Sokumpheak is on red-hot form just now for Khemara Keila
Last week it was a hat-trick of goals, this weekend it was a hat-trick of assists, and a goal for Khemara Keila's wonder striker Kouch Sokumpheak, without doubt the hottest property of Cambodian origin in the Cambodia Premier League right now. He was on fire again today as Khemara piled on the pressure and they'd netted five goals at half-time against a hapless Spark FC. It was a much less frantic affair after the interval and Spark pulled a goal back to make the final score 5-2. They had in fact opened the scoring through the league's joint top scorer Justine Prince after 3 minutes. Sokumpheak, who is the other joint top scorer in the CPL, was the pivotal figure around which Khemara dominated the first 45 minutes, working in tandem with his Nigerian forward partner Ali Anthony to run the Spark defense ragged. Anthony bagged a couple of goals, Bunvicheth and Olatunde got the others and they could even afford defender Chan Dara getting sent off late on. I checked with national coach Scott O'Donell that Sokumpheak is still eligible for the under-23 team that will play in the SEA Games and we reckon he is - what a relief!
Sokumpheak (back row, far right) is the proud captain of the Khemara Keila team
2 goals for Khemara Keila's Nigerian striker Alichigozie Anthony
By comparison, the first game on Sunday afternoon - Build Bright v Ministry of National Defense - was of a far more sedate pace and the goalless scoreline is a perfect reflection of a match without any serious goalmouth action to get excited about. The only note I made during the game was the last-minute sending off of Defense Ministry's defender Pheak Rady. For the record, the Defense Ministry were without the injured Khim Borey whilst goalkeeper Samreth Seiha came on a few seconds before half-time for the injured Sou Yaty. I can't fathom the team selections of the Defense's coach, so I won't even begin to try.
Samreth Seiha, Cambodia's No 1 was on the Defense Ministry bench at the start of today's game - no wonder he's not looking best pleased
Build Bright in white and Defense Ministry take to the pitch in front of an empty stadium - I think they knew what the next 90 mins was going to bring

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Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

In looking at the CPL's top scorers before the weekend fixtures, 6 of the top 10 scorers were of African extraction. Not something I'm personally excited about, I'd like to see more Khmer representation in the top scorers chart.
One of my concerns with CPL football is that each team has an African presence running down the spine of the team, usually a big stopper, a creative midfielder and a big strong, quick attacker. That covers just about every team except Defense Ministry (who have only Khmer players).
What it does mean is that young, good Khmer players are being denied a place in the team in those important positions, which has a knock-on effect for the national team. Each team has about 5 Africans on their books and to make it worth paying their higher wages, the teams will select them over and above good young talents in most cases. the exception is someone like PPCrown's Keo Sokngorn, who merits a place above the Africans.
I am not against the Africans playing in the CPL, far from it as for example the foreign players make the British Premier League more exciting to watch, but I am just concerned at the knock-on effect it has on young gifted Khmers in those key positions. It certainly reduces the options for the national team coach in those areas of the field, as literally every team has those positions stocked with African players.
The problem is, I don't have an answer to it, unless the CPL only allows 2 foreigners on the field per team at any one time, not the current 3.
Anyone have any other suggestions?

June 16, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

My concern over the influx of foreign players into the CPL also extends into their integration into Cambodian football and way of life and the role model behaviour and attitudes they display, or not as the case may be.
Firstly, no foreign players should be allowed to play in the CPL unless they are as good, or better, than the existing Khmer players. The rule that says only 3 foreign players can play at any one time is one way to ensure that matches are not dominated by the foreigners (for want of a better word), though this is often the case anyway.
The majority of the African players plying their trade in the CPL are physically stronger and technically astute, with a history of playing in more robust competition. It shows, that's why they often dominate on the field.
My concerns come from attending CPL matches on a regular basis and see that the Africans warm-up together, they naturally bond together, they celebrate their goals together, they mix together before and after a match but I see all too little interaction with their Khmer teammates. What I don't see of course is how they interact at training on a daily basis, as of course all teams in the CPL are run on a professional basis, so most of their interaction is outside the public eye.
In my opinion, it is imperative that all foreign players, African or otherwise, adopt role model behaviour standards for their Khmer teammates to follow and throw themselves wholeheartedly into the Khmer way of doing things, whilst bringing their own brand of enjoyment and entertainment to training and matches. That's the ideal, but I'm told by people who know better than me, that's often not the case.
Hence I was pleasantly surprised to see the reactions of the African members of the Khemara Keila team on Sunday who were exhibiting exactly the behaviours I would hope to see in each team. They played as a team, they worked as a unit, they scored five 1st half goals because everyone pulled together, they carried out their goal celebrations together and even the guys on the bench, were loudly rooting for their teammates despite not getting a game themselves. More of the same please gentlemen.

June 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depuis que les africains sont là, la CPL est d'un bien meilleur niveau qu'avant.

Prend exemple sur l'AFC President's Cup .. si tu enlèves les africains de l'équipe du Crown.. le PPC n'aurait pas remporté le moindre match et aurait marqué qu'1 seul but en 3 matchs .. le Crown aurait été du même niveau que le champion du Bhoutan .. grâve aux africains ils ont battu le champion du Bhoutan.

Tous le monde fait ainsi pour que son championnat soit + fort .. tous le monde recruter à l'étranger .. se refermer sur soit même c'est suicidaire footballistiquement surtout pour un pays qui a un si faible viver de bon joueurs.

Puis sa ne changerait rien au niveau national d'interdire les étrangers .. bien au contraire .. grâce aux africains nos internationaux sont habitués à jouer contre des joueurs talentueux et physique .. c'est une très bonne chose pour nos joueurs internationaux.

Si on jouerait qu'entre khmers en CPL .. le niveau serait très faible.

Regarde prend le problème dans un autre sens .. toi tu es journaliste et tu travaille au Cambodge .. on peut dire qu'à cause de ton poste .. un khmer est au chomage .. c'est complétement ridicule .. mais c'est la même chose.

June 17, 2009 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Thanks for your reply Anon. I don't speak or read French so had to google translate it, which isn't ideal, but I got the gist of your comments.

However as I said, I am not against foreigners/Africans playing in the CPL. Foreigners play in all leagues all over the world, that's a given. What concerns me is that it will have a detrimental effect on young Khmer talent getting their chance to shine at the CPL level. And I was hoping someone could offer up some suggestions.
One way is to have an under-23 team in the CPL only for Khmer players, which is being mooted as I type by the FFC hierarchy. Its an option, again, not one that I'm 100% convinced about, but its an option nonetheless.

Concerning my own work, I work in tourism. I have been employed because of my skills and knowledge, which I use and share for the benefit of my Khmer colleagues and the business. I do some part-time writing for the newspaper, but only because there are no Khmer sports journalists with sufficient skills at this time. I hope to pass my skills onto the next generation of tourism and journalism students, much the same as I'd like to see the foreign players passing on the benefit of their skills and knowledge to the young Khmer players of tomorrow. That would be the win-win situation with foreign players in the CPL.

June 17, 2009 at 5:44 PM  

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