Sunday, September 6, 2009

The beautiful game

The CPL's leading scorer signed off the season with a hat-trick - Uche Prince Justine of Spark FC
There was no stopping Mohamadou Ousmanou Saturday, he scored a hat-trick too for Phnom Penh Crown
The Cambodian Premier League served up another veritable feast of football Saturday afternoon with 15 goals scored in the two games, two hat-tricks and plenty of goalmouth action to entertain the fans at Olympic Stadium. If there's one thing you can pretty much guarantee in every CPL game you watch, then it'll be goals, and usually, plenty of them. The opening match between Phnom Penh Crown and Spark literally ignited after half-time with Crown running out 6-3 winners, though for much of the game it was Spark who dominated and should've wrapped it up before allowing Crown back into it. In Uche Prince Justine, Spark have the CPL's top marksman and find of the season, and he again demonstrated why he's netted so many goals this season, despite playing for a team that will finish one place above the relegation zone. With a strong physique, a deadly shot and surging, power-packed runs, Justine has left most defences flat-footed this campaign and he illustrated that again in scoring his first hat-trick of his professional career. Still a teenager, his 21 goals this season will I'm sure prompt a flood of offers from more-fancied teams in the coming weeks, now that his season has come to a close. However, despite his one-man show for Spark, it was at the other end where his teammates couldn't stop a late surge by Crown, who scored five of their goals in the last 15 minutes and in Mohamadou Ousmanou, they had their own deadly marksman, who netted a hat-trick as well, all from close range. Chan Rithy swung in an unstoppable free-kick and Akeeb TJ Ayoyinka tapped in two more to complete the rout as Crown cemented their top spot finish.
Though the crowd at Olympic were left almost breathless by the flurry of goals in the first game, the second match started at a more sedate pace before hotting up after the half-time interval. Sin Dalin with two goals, a 35-yard screamer from Chhin Chhouern and a tap-in for Oum Kumpheak has given the Ministry of National Defense a great chance to claim the lucrative 5th spot in the CPL depending on how results go on Sunday. Their 4-2 victory was inspired again by the surging runs of tiny winger Nov Soseila, though leggy midfielder Olaoye Olatubosn finished the game with a flourish, netting twice for the relegated Phuchung Neak. All in all a great day for lovers of the ball hitting the back of the net, so it was only fitting that I had a chat with Uche Prince Justine to find out more about the CPL's most exciting discovery of the season. My interview with him will follow soon.
Phnom Penh Crown, the CPL's most colourful team, line-up in their bright red kit
The final Spark FC team pose of the season. They lost 6-3 to Crown but played well.
A very happy man, Phnom Penh Crown manager Makara Be
The Ministry of National Defense ended their season on a high note, winning 4-2
Olaoye Olatubosn netted twice for relegated club Phuchung Neak against MND

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