Friday, July 31, 2009

Shop talk

I spent most of the working day today at the six-monthly CCBEN (that's community-based eco-tourism to the uninitiated) network members meeting listening to presentations by various CBET projects here in Cambodia including Sambor Prei Kuk, Mekong Discovery Trail, Chi Phat as well as the Stung Treng-based developments taking place at O'Russey Kandal and Preah Rumkel, the waterfalls on the Cambodian side of the Lao border area. I haven't been to the latter but it looks good enough to get myself up there during the dry season, when the water levels are lower, and the falls look more dramatic. It's always good to catch up and find out what's happening on the eco-tourism front, especially as some of the projects like Chi Phat and the MDT mature and progress. The folks at Wildlife Alliance in Chi Phat for example are now turning their attentions to a new project at Trapeang Rung on national highway 48 which they will link to Chi Phat by a bicycle and trekking route. It was a sad day though as the CCBEN co-ordinator, Sok Sophea, who does a really great job, is leaving to go to Hanoi for the next 9 months to further her studies. She will be greatly missed.
Tomorrow sees a change in the scheduled Cambodian Premier League fixtures as the Cambodia u-19 team playing in Vietnam next week has whisked away some of the key players for a couple of the teams, so their matches have been suspended. However, Phnom Penh Crown - who can go top for the first time if they win - and Khemara Keila are part of the line-up tomorrow afternoon, so the two games will be worth watching. In the week just gone, the two basement teams clashed and Phuchung Neak stay bottom, losing by a single goal to Post Tel.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another face of Cambodia

I'm still chuckling from all the comments I've been getting regarding the Olympic Stadium's 'peanut princess' who seems to have got her own fan base amongst a small core of my readership. She is certainly one of the attractions that makes a visit to watch football in such scorching hot and humid weather each weekend, a little more bearable. Someone else who makes my life more interesting is my current lady friend pictured above. We're currently estranged as she's visiting her family in her home province, so its a telephone relationship at the moment, which is tough going as her English is as poor as my Khmer.

Absolutely chuffed

I currently have a smile as wide as the Mekong River. My pal Eric at 4FACES Gallery in Siem Reap was looking for an assistant to help him at the gallery shop and with his admin, so I suggested another very good friend of mine, Now (pictured), who has up til now been selling souvenirs at Angkor Wat and Banteay Kdei, or more recently planting rice in her family's fields. Well this morning, she went to meet Eric for an interview, they got on like a house on fire, and she starts work on Monday as his assistant. Which is simply wonderful news. This will be a whole new experience for her though of course she already has good people skills having talked thousands of tourists into buying her souvenirs over the years. Her spoken English is pretty good, having taught herself by reading the books she sells and using her language skills to clinch a deal either in English, Japanese, French and so on, like many of the souvenir-sellers at the temples. She's on a month's steep learning curve as Eric has agreed a tie-in with the Raffles Grand Hotel and has to plan for an exhibition coming up at the hotel in October called Retrospective (2000-2009). As I type this my smile is getting even wider. I am so chuffed for my two friends.
Link: 4FACES

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Good for the soul

Robert Macomber with an 80 year old monk at Wat Hanchey during his research in Cambodia
History fascinates me. It always has. So the new fictional novel set in Indochina that I mentioned a couple of days ago has intrigued me. The publishers Pineapple Press are sending me a copy of the book - The Honored Dead - by Robert Macomber, so in the meantime I asked the author for some background to his novel, the 7th in a series of naval historical fiction following the life and career of Lt. Cmdr. Peter Wake from 1863 to 1907, a time when the United States Navy helped America become a global power.
Q. Can you give a short précis of your novel, The Honored Dead?
A. In 1883, American naval intelligence officer Peter Wake is sent to Indochina to present a message from President Chest Arthur to King Norodom I. It should be a simple courier mission and over in a couple of weeks. Six months later, Wake is still in Indochina and has learned that nothing is simple in the Empire of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia. Along the way, he meets opium warlords, Malay pirates, Catholic priests, French advisors, Vietnamese madarins, and makes a friend in Cambodia's King Norodom, one of the shrewdest and longest reigning monarchs in SE Asia. The story ultimately leads to a significant event of Vietnamese history in August of 1883, after which the French dominated the region.
Q. Why choose Indochina for the 7th novel in the series?
A. It is an area which many American readers are familiar with, but might not know the fascinating history. My next novel is set in 1886 Cuba.
Q. Is your character and storyline based on any known historical figure or episode, or purely fictional?
A. The protagonist is fictional. The event at the end of the story is real. I weave my fictional character into the real event and tell it from his viewpoint.
Q. What will make your book appeal to non-naval readers?
A. Though a lot of the story is at sea, it's aboard local vessels - a small steamer and a Vietnamese junk. It's also primarily story about early naval intelligence work and how an American on his first visit to Asia deals with a culture completely alien to him.
Q. When and where did your research take place?
A. This is a novel, not a dry history book, but I still have to do a lot of learning before I start writing. In my endnotes (I'm one of the few novelists who does endnotes) and acknowledgments my readers can see a lot of my research. I did about five months of research here in the US (reading histories, memoirs, magazine pieces, maps, reports, etc, from the 1880's), then went to SE Asia by ship. I ascended the Mekong by riverboat from Mytho in Vietnam into central, then western Cambodia. I spent time on the Mekong, Tonle and Siem Reap rivers, along with a little time in the capital and at Angkor Wat. In Vietnam, I was on the Saigon, Mekong, and Perfume rivers. Traveling by river gives you a wonderful view of the land, people, and culture. I recommend it to everyone.
Q. You’ve said your trip here has changed you forever – how and why?
A. Frankly, I was surprised the genuine hospitality I found. My expectations of politically dogmatic, sullen, antagonistic people, angry at Westerners because of the historical conflicts, were completely wrong. I fell in love with the very generous people and intricate artistry of the cultures in Vietnam and Cambodia. I want to return and urge everyone to go there. It's good for your soul.
My thanks to Robert Macomber for his speedy response to my questions and for the use of the photo. Visit the author's website here.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The face of the Angkor Empire

The northern face tower of Prasat Samnang Tasok, at Banteay Chhmar
I promised to bring you some more photos from Banteay Chhmar. So here they are. Well actually, they are photos from Prasat Samnang Tasok, one of the nine satellite temples that surround the main complex at Banteay Chhmar. It is one of four standing satellite temples with the Bayon-like faces. The other remaining satellite temples may've had them in the past, but they are now in disrepair and all trace of the faces have disappeared. Samnang Tasok is essentially a gate-tower, such as you'd find at the city of Angkor Thom, standing to the east of the main complex, amidst dense vegetation and undergrowth, with a ruined gopura nearby. In fact we camped next to its moat and you wouldn't have known there was a temple inside the dense foliage until you walked inside and saw the faces peering directly at you. There's something about these giant faces that have captured my imagination since I first saw them at Angkor Thom, oh so many years ago. 1994 to be precise. I truly believe that they belong to the god-king Jayavarman VII. I don't have any evidence, just my gut-feeling. Probably, because I want them to be of Jayavarman. They are an incredible legacy from the Angkor Empire and everything should be done to protect and preserve them whilst they are still in situ. One of the face towers in the central complex has already collapsed, this cannot be allowed to happen again. I'm pleased to see conservation efforts are being undertaken at Banteay Chhmar, there is much to do and I hope one of their priorities is to ensure the stability of all the face towers.
The blind doorway and northern face at Prasat Samnang Tasok
The decoration is still visible around the north face of the gate-tower
The western face is in a much poorer condition and will only get worse without restoration
The doorway and western face of Prasat Samnang Tasok
This is the southern face of the gate-tower
The southern (left) and eastern faces of Samnang Tasok at Banteay Chhmar
A longer shot of the southern and eastern faces at the satellite temple, east of the main complex

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Press article

Today's Phnom Penh Post carries my article on the Cambodian U-19 national team that is now in Vietnam preparing for the Asean U-19 youth championships.
Here are the links to the PPP website for my match reports from the games played on Saturday and Sunday.

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A naval presence in Cambodia

A new fictional novel published a couple of months ago, The Honored Dead, is set in French Indochina in 1883 and is the 7th book in a series about an American naval intelligence officer, Peter Wake. It documents his trials and tribulations in Cambodia and Vietnam as he secretly assesses the region's political and military situation on behalf of the US president. The author is Robert Macomber, an internationally recognized award-winning maritime writer, lecturer, and television commentator who travelled through the Mekong Delta and Cambodia by riverboat in researching his novel and commented on his trip; "Just as with Peter Wake, it changed my life forever." Historical novels about Cambodia are few and far between, so I hope to get the opportunity to read this one, published by Pineapple Press in Florida. For more about the author, visit his website here.
Another fictional novel, Figurehead, could prove to be a much more controversial publication. In his debut book, author Patrick Allington takes a swipe at journalists, diplomats and just about everyone else including Cambodia's King Father Norodom Sihanouk. His main fictional characters in the book are based on left-wing journalist Wilfred Burchett and the Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan and his politically-charged satire may not find favour with everyone. 248 pages and published by Black Inc in Australia.

Author Patrick Allington with his first novel, Figurehead (photo Black Inc)

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Monday, July 27, 2009

More than 30 years on

The date, 12 August, has been set for Rob Hamill's appearance as a civil party in the trial of Comrade Duch at the ECCC. New Zealander Hamill (pictured) is better known as an Olympic and Trans-Atlantic champion rower, but he's also the brother of Kerry Hamill, captured, tortured and murdered under Duch's supervision of S-21 in 1978. Nearly 31 years to the day of his brother's capture off the coast of Cambodia, Rob Hamill says of his opportunity to face Duch in court; “I expect to experience the widest possible range of emotions when I see Duch, a lot of nervous energy will be expended. Duch says he is sorry and wants forgiveness, but I want to find out whether he truly understands the impact of what he did and the damage he caused. I’m not sure that he does comprehend what he and the Khmer Rouge did to the people of Cambodia, let alone to the families of Kerry, John and Stuart.” His brother Kerry Hamill and Briton John Dewhirst were snatched from their storm-blown yacht, and fellow sailor Canadian Stuart Glass was killed, on 13 August 1978. Kerry and John were tortured for two months at S-21 and forced to falsely confess they were CIA spies, before they were killed and their bodies most likely burnt and buried at Tuol Sleng. A film, Brother Number One, is being made that follows Rob's journey to Cambodia to find out the truth of what happened to his elder brother. Read more here.

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Cambodia's stars of the future

The scene is set for the giantkilling of all time as the cream of Cambodia's budding young football hopefuls take on the young stars from Australia, Thailand and Singapore in the Asean Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championships in Saigon next week. Okay, so it's highly unlikely that Cambodia will progress from their group matches against the countries mentioned above, but there's always hope, as national U-19 coach Prak Sovannara (pictured) explains. "I have a good squad, all of the players bar one are with CPL teams and play regularly as well as train full time. I know its a tall order but at youth level I believe we can give a good account of ourselves. I've selected 20 players and we are going to Vietnam a little early so we can get together, train together and play a couple of practice games before it starts for real." Sovannara has spent the last year as coach to the full national team and took them to the Suzuki Cup finals, as well as using his know-how to guide Preah Khan Reach to the top of the CPL, as their technical advisor. If anyone can get the U-19's fired up and ready for the biggest challenge of their budding careers, Sovannara can.
The squad left Phnom Penh at 6am today, taking the overland route to Saigon, where they will prepare themselves for the tournament that begins on 4 August and involves three games in five days. Cambodia will face Thailand in their opening Group A game on 4 August and then meet Singapore on 6 August and Australia two days later, on 8 August. After some drop-outs, there are just two groups, with the winners and runners-up moving onto the semi finals on 10 August and the final on 12 August. Notwithstanding the coach's optimistic view, progress from the group stage would be a fantastic achievement for the Cambodian youngsters who number Phnom Penh Crown's wonder-kid Keo Sokngorn (pictured) amongst their ranks. Also included in the 20-man squad are two of the CPL's best goalkeepers this season, Peng Bunchhay and Sou Yaty. A number of the U-19 squad are also likely to feature in the U-23 squad that national coach Scott O'Donell will announce later this week.
With the Ministry of National Defense, Phnom Penh Crown and Preah Khan Reach providing the bulk of the U-19 squad for the tournament, CPL matches involving those three teams will be re-scheduled according to FFC Deputy Secretary May Tola. Prak Sovannara also indicated that the Australians would be sending their U-17 team to compete and he felt that at youth level, Cambodia have nothing to fear from Thailand and Singapore. Fighting talk indeed and if his optimism rubs off onto the players, we might just see that giantkilling I mentioned earlier. The full squad is as follows: Peng Bunchhay, Soeng Vanthan, Keo Sokngorn, Touch Pacharong, Hong Rathana (all Phnom Penh Crown), Sou Yaty, Thong Oudom, Lorn Sotheara, Phuong Soksana, Khek Khemarin, Oum Kumpheak (all Ministry of Defense), Chhun Veasna (Kong Reach Sey), Tum Saray, Prak Mony Udom, Suon Makara, Sok Chanraksmey, Sok Vannak (all Preah Khan Reach), Nhim Sovannara, Ek Vannak (BBU), Seng Komsen (Spark). Coaches: Prak Sovannara, Tep Long Rachana, Ouk Chomrong, Phea Sopheaktra.

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Match reports

Saturday's matches in the CPL
A round-up of Sunday's CPL results
The inside back page of today's Phnom Penh Post has 4 of my match reports from the weekend's feast of Cambodian Premier League football. They should be online later today.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mixed bag part two

Turning everyone's heads today, the 'peanut princess' is back by popular demand
Ikenwa Ekene Michael earned Preah Khan a share of the spoils today
Sunday's football was a mixed bag. The top of the table clash in the Cambodian Premier League was devoid of the intensity and artistry you might expect from the top two teams, but the effort was there and the 1-1 result was a fair reflection of neither team's superiority. In the first match however, we had a bit of everything and six goals is exactly the type of entertainment the crowd at Olympic Stadium want to see. For starters, we had the Spark versus Kirivong clash and Kirivong's failure to hold onto their 3-1 lead said as much about their season as it did this particular game. They started brightly this campaign but have fallen away badly, as they did against Spark this afternoon. Goals from Julius Chukwumeka and recent Vietnamese import Vin Nhek Troeung nosed them ahead, only for Justine Prince to make it 2-1 on the stroke of half-time. Chukwumeka then accepted a gift from the Spark keeper to make it 3-1 but Spark refused to lay down and roll over, with Than Rachana Udom's volley and a penalty by Prince, complete with a double backward somersault, ensuring they got a share of the spoils, and the fans got to see some goals.
For the top versus 2nd clash, Preah Khan Reach were looking to complete the double over Crown, who have climbed the table steadily and now lie just a point behind the long-time leaders. As it was, 1-1 was the final result and for all their probing and testing of each other, the match wasn't a classic, but when there's a lot at stake, that's often the case. The skies darkened and the rains came just as they kicked off and the teams played out a pretty forgettable first-half. After the break, it was Crown who drew first blood when Tieng Tiny’s goal-bound shot took a deflection off a defender and looped into the net. A scrappy goal summed up the game so far. As in yesterday's match, the referee then took a hand in proceedings by sending off Crown's Phuong Narong for bugger all. Moments later Preah Khan equalised when Khoun Laboravy's inch-perfect cross was slammed home by another recent import from Vietnam, Ikenwa Ekene Michael and the game ended all square. Just a quick word about the 'peanut princess' who was in a figure-hugging yellow outfit today and turned everyone's heads, not just mine.
Preah Khan Reach line up before today's top of the table clash
Phnom Penh Crown hoping to dislodge PKR at the top
The two captains share a joke as the teams enter the playing arena
Kirivong's recent Vietnamese import, Vin Nhek Troeung, opened his scoring account
Spark came back from the dead to draw 3-3 this afternoon
Kirivong gave Spark an early Christmas gift after leading 3-1
Eyes on the coin gentlemen please, one of today's best toss-ups
The storm cloud on the right is just about to hover over the stadium and bring us some rain


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mixed fortunes

Khemara Keila's David Adeyinka saved the day for his side, 12 minutes from time
Defense Ministry goalkeeper Sou Yaty saved a penalty but ended up a loser
As Khemara Keila cemented their 3rd place in the Cambodian Premier League this afternoon, one of their top 4 rivals, Naga Corp, came a cropper against Build Bright and are falling behind amongst the also-rans. However, Khemara didn't have it all their own way against the Ministry of Defense team and it took a sneaky near post flick header by David Adeyinka, 12 minutes from time, to quell the army team. It had been one-way traffic for the second half as Khemara sought the win, though the army had shared the spoils in the opening half. Khemara skipper Kouch Sokumpheak will kick himself for under-hitting his penalty just before the interval, which Sou Yaty kept out with his legs, and he had one of those days when he was simply never going to score. Khemara didn't play anything like their usual free-flowing selves but they won, which was the result they needed to keep in touch at the top.
In the first game of the afternoon, Naga looked lethargic and suffering from a heavy hangover after their midweek defeat against Phnom Penh Crown. Build Bright's youthful enthusiasm gave them the edge and two headers gave them a 2 goal lead, through Prum Puth Sethy and Oum Chandara, before Sunday Patrick Okonkwo reduced the deficit on half-time. Two crucial decisions by the referee then turned the game on its head. He disallowed Om Thavrak's header for handball which no-one else saw, and then sent off Naga's sub keeper Chhorm Veasna for scything down an opponent. A few minutes later Chandara thundered in a 3rd goal for BBU and they withstood heavy pressure and a late goal from Sun Sovannarith, to surprise everyone with a 3-2 success. Naga's players looked dejected as they begin to lose touch with the CPL leaders.
The national U-23 team that will travel to the SEA Games in Laos at the end of the year, should be announced at the end of next week following three weeks of trials. This team will form the bulk of the future full national team so it'll be intriguing to see who coach Scott O'Donell will include. At U-19 level, coach Prak Sovannara and his squad will travel to Vietnam on Monday in good time to prepare for the AFF U-19 championships in Saigon starting 4 August. Cambodia are in group B alongside Australia, Laos and Thailand.
The successful Khemara team, winning 1-nil v Defense Ministry
Toss-up of the week - Defense in red, Khemara in blue
Build Bright's two-goal hero against Naga, Oum Chandara
A youthful looking Build Bright United before today's game
Naga were lethargic and suffering from a lack of fizz against BBU this afternoon
Even the tv cameras have got in on the act, as they keep a look-out for the 'peanut princess' who wore yellow today - she's back by popular demand
I love this. Some of the crowd shelter from the sun's direct light by sitting in the shadow of the floodlight pylon. Only in Cambodia.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Khmer Rock lives

BBC R4 on Khmer Rock - lost to the Khmer Rouge but still alive today
BBC Radio 4 in the UK are spending half an hour on 'Khmer Rock & and the Killing Fields' on Tuesday 28th, when host Robin Denselow will tell the story of Cambodia's rock and roll stars who emerged during the late 1960s with their new sound. Despite losing most of those stars of Khmer Rock during the Khmer Rouge regime, the music is still revered today. Hopefully they'll post a link so we can hear it after its finished at BBC R4. Thanks to Simon for the heads-up.
The performance of the Yeak Lom traditional group from Ratanakiri at Gasolina tonight was cancelled as they didn't actually make the trip down south. Shame. The dvd for the Aki Ra's Boys documentary arrived in the post today from Singapore, he says, breathing a sigh of relief. It's certainly a film about triumph over adversity. This weekend there's another bout of four football matches in the Cambodian Premier League. The second game on Sunday promises to be of particular interest, when top team Preah Khan Reach take on their nearest rivals, Phnom Penh Crown, who are just a point behind them. My money is on Crown though PKR have quietly gone about their business this season, winning matches and have yet to put in a really electrifying performance. Saturday's games should see wins for Naga and Khemara Keila. I'll be covering all 4 matches for the Phnom Penh Post. Finally, the new Cambodian national carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, will kick-off its maiden flights on Tuesday between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (4 each way) as well as Saigon. There are really cheap fares to be had too. The original idea was to christen the new Sihanoukville airport but that has been put on hold until they can get a 'name' to open it later this year. Oh I nearly forgot, the PM here has talked disparagingly about wedding cakes being a non-Khmer tradition and of foreign influences affecting Khmer arts, which will be a headache for the cake-making business over here as well as people like Belle, the country's leading contemporary dancer, who gets her influences from all over the globe. I can understand a desire to keep a rich vein of tradition to the fore, but there has to be room for innovation and progress too, the country cannot live in a time-warp.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Next month at Meta

Boreak, one of Aki Ra's Boys
So you can put the dates in your diary for August, I will be presenting three documentaries at Meta House next month. The first will be on Saturday 8th, when the hour-long Aki Ra's Boys will be shown in Cambodia for the first time. Filmed in 2007 by the team of James Leong & Lynn Lee, it deals with the scourge of landmines and the effects on the handicapped children who live in the home of Aki Ra, the man who has demined swathes of Cambodia by hand and who runs the landmine museum near Banteay Srei. It was very sad to hear that Aki Ra's wife Hourt unexpectedly died a few months ago, though I believe he's now remarried and continues in his demining work and providing a home for handicapped orphans.
The second film night will be on Thursday 13th with a double-bill of documentaries on a photography theme. The first is Secrets of S-21: Legacy of a Cambodian Prison, a half-hour BBC production from 1996 in which two American photographers, Doug Niven and Chris Riley, painstakingly piece together the details of the genocide that took place at S-21 through thousands of photos left behind when the prison was evacuated. The photos and interviews with former prison guards and prisoners reveal a world built on power, fear, and total disregard for human life and dignity. This is still a relevant documentary more than a decade after it was made and so relevant to the KR trials taking place right now. In the second half-hour film, veteran Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths (pictured), in a film called The Shoot: Cambodian Odyssey, returns to Cambodia to talk about his experiences in the area but also of his approach to photojournalism. This documentary was filmed in 1996 by director Richard Traylor-Smith for the BBC. Griffiths died in March 2008.

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Match report

In today's Phnom Penh Post, my match report from yesterday's CPL encounter, which Phnom Penh Crown won 1-nil. Read it online here.

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Metfone on the line

The Cambodian football federation (FFC) has joined forces with mobile telephone supplier Metfone in a sponsorship deal worth $1.5million over the next three years. Increasing interest from sponsors is great news all round, for the FFC, the clubs and the fans. Okay, so the name of the CPL will become the Metfone C-League for next season but that's a small price to pay as some of the funding will go towards relocating the National Football Center as well as funding the U-19 and U-23 squads. The current football headquarters is a 1-pitch facility southwest of the capital, whilst plans for the new location include 4 pitches on a 52 hectare site in the Bati district, about 40 kms from Phnom Penh. The FFC was previously sponsored by a South Korean technology company and now the Vietnam-based company who own Metfone have come to the party. If I was being picky, it would be nice to have some Cambodian sponsors involved, but beggars can't be choosers in the current financial climate.
Also on the football front, an AFC C-Licence course for coaches was completed on Monday,and 70% of the 30 Cambodian coaches passed the required standard. Cambodia's only A-Licence coach, Prak Sovannara was in charge of the 2-week theory and practical sessions and said he was "delighted at the commitment of the Khmer coaches" who took part. Better qualified coaches will be the springboard for better quality footballers of the future in my view. On the subject of players of the future, the national coach Scott O'Donell has been holding twice-weekly trials for the U-23 squad that will travel to Laos for the SEA Games in December. And he's been very impressed with the 35 or so players that have turned up at 6am at the National Football Center for the sessions. He wants to select his squad soon, as some of the players will also be representing Cambodia in the U-19 championships in Vietnam next month.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crown pip it

Phnom Penh Crown move to within a point of leaders Preah Khan in the CPL
PPC striker Mohamadou Ousmanou netted the game's only goal
The Clash of the Titans took place at Olympic Stadium this afternoon and failed to live up to the hype. It was an okay sort of game but didn't reach the level of quality you'd expect from these two teams, both riding high in the Cambodian Premier League. As it turned out Phnom Penh Crown collected the win to move to within a point of league leaders Preah Khan Reach, but it should've been a draw. With Naga missing the suspended Om Thavrak, their lynchpin skipper and Crown without their top marksman Keeb Ayoyinka, supposedly off to a Turkish club, the personal match up of the day didn't happen. And the story of the game turned out to be former Naga striker, Mohamadou Ousmanou, who returned to haunt his old club and net the only goal of the game, 3 minutes into the 2nd half. Clear-cut chances were restricted to a mere handful throughout the whole game and despite being the league's leading scorers, Naga looked toothless as Crown came out on top. They have the evil eye over Naga and today was no exception. I liked the referee's style today as he consistently waved play on when players went down feigning injury, though he took 2 minutes to spot a serious injury early on, when the player was stretchered off and didn't return. The man in the middle simply can't win. There was a horn and a drum in the crowd today and it made a difference. Cambodian crowds are incredibly quiet, certainly by British standards, so it was good to hear some noise today, instead of the morgue-like conditions the games are usually played in.
Naga again pipped at the post by Phnom Penh Crown
The captains shake hands before the game begins, Chanbunrith (red) and Sothearith (blue)
The Phnom Penh Crown bench includes 3 national players
PPC asst-coach Bouy Dary and Mohamadou Ousmanou at the post-match press conference
Sidelined through suspension, Naga's Om Thavrak and yours truly share a half-time joke
The 'peanut princess' makes a comeback in a hat - pic by Nick Sells


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