Black storm clouds fill the sky above the Olympic Stadium, complete with lightning strikes aplenty Akeeb Ayoyinka (left) and Oscar Mpoko, the 2nd half goalscorers for Phnom Penh Crown
The Cambodian Premier League
games at Olympic Stadium today were played in very hot, humid and for a short while, rainy conditions with lightning strikes filling the air, as black clouds circled overhead. It reminded me that it was only a year ago that lightning killed three footballers in the city and has already claimed 100 lives this year. Taking a risk with nature can prove costly in Cambodia. As for the football itself, Phnom Penh Crown stuttered to a 2-1 success over Spark FC but had to thank their two African substitutes for the three points against plucky opponents. In two match-defining minutes of a see-saw game, Oscar Mpoko and Akeeb Ayoyinka turned the match on its head after the league's top scorer Justine Prince had netted again for Spark in the first half to give them the lead. Crown had started the game with an all-Khmer line-up, something of a rare occurrence in the CPL these days, but it was Spark who showed the killer touch with a well-taken headed goal from their Nigerian skipper. Then it was the turn of Mpoko and Ayoyinka, within a minute of each other, to strut their stuff and their baby cradle goal celebrations fifteen minutes from the end as Crown cemented second-place in the table. In the second game, a solitary strike from Sin Dalin early in the first half won the tie in favour of the National Defense Ministry against bottom club Phuchung Neak, but the game was a poor second to the afternoon's opener.
The team's enter the arena in scorching hot weather for the opening match The all-Khmer starting eleven for Phnom Penh Crown today The Spark FC line-up with top scorer Justine Prince wearing the captain's armband The players keeping the bench warm for Phnom Penh Crown before today's game Sin Dalin, the match-winner for National Defence Ministry against Phuchung Neak
Midway through the second match of this afternoon's football I had an enlightening 1-to-1 with the Cambodian national football coach Scott O'Donell
(pictured right), who has just returned from running a coach instructor's course in Kuala Lumpur on behalf of FIFA, the world's governing body. Scott was filling me in on what's been happening since he returned as national coach at the start of this month. My interview with Scott should appear in the Phnom Penh Post sometime next week, when I will be able to fill you in on the details here at the same time. What has been notable is that he's been to watch every team in the Cambodian Premier League a couple of times already, he's spoken to the CPL team coaches as a group to get their buy-in and co-operation, he has assembled his own coaching team as well as identifying up to 40 eligible players at under-23 level who he wants to invite to trials, from which he will select a squad of 25 players to represent the country at the SEA Games in Laos in December. More next week.
Labels: Cambodia Premier League, Scott O'Donell