Thursday, November 12, 2009

Down but not out

The Cambodia U23s line up for tonight's match
Now for the bad news. The Cambodian U23s lost 1-0 to Vissai Ninh Binh in their final BIDC Cup group match tonight but of course are already through to the final on Saturday, where they will meet HAGL, who sent the Laos U23s packing with a 3-0 win earlier today. As expected coach Scott O'Donell took the opportunity to give his squad members who hadn't played in the previous games, a run out but they didn't step up to the mark as he would've hoped and they were definitely second-best against the V-League new boys. The only goal of the game came on 16 minutes when Nguyen Thanh Son ran through a big hole in the Cambodia back-line and fired a shot inside Sou Yaty's near post. To be honest VNB never really looked in trouble as the Cambodian team lacked real punch up front though VNB didn't really bust a gut either, doing just enough to claim the win. What they did do was keep possession of the ball and that was most frustrating as it didn't allow the Cambodian youngsters to get up a head of steam at any time. Aside from a couple of half-chances by Oum Kumpheak and Prak Mony Udom in the opening minutes, there was little else to get excited by and the game will give O'Donell a good indication of the strength in depth that he has to call on. It will be back to the full-strength team for the final on Saturday with no injury worries from the line-ups that beat HAGL first-time around and Laos.
O'Donell was realistic at the final whistle. "I wasn't happy with our first-half performance, we didn't play well and all credit to Ninh Binh they gave us a footballing lesson in how to keep possession. We played better in the second-half but still didn't have enough of a goal threat. This was the first time that team have played together and I cannot fault their effort or commitment. The supporters were great again and I think they understood what we were trying to do tonight in giving all the players the opportunity to play in front of their home fans. I hope they will turn out in their droves for the final on Saturday." I am sure they will, egged on by the impromptu band in the main stand and the Army orchestra and singers who provide the pre-match and halftime entertainment. The Cambodian line-up for the 6pm final against HAGL on Saturday will look very different from today's starting XI: Sou Yaty, Lay Raksmey,Chan Dara, Touch Pancharong, Tieng Tiny (capt) (Sok Rithy), Phuong Narong (Ieng Piseth), Lorn Sotheara (San Narith), Keo Kosal (Nov Soseila) Khuon Laboravy, Prak Mony Udom (Kouch Sokumpheak), Oum Kumpheak (Chan Chhaya).
The Cambodian team take a bow before their warm-up
The toss up by referee Sipaseuth from Laos with Tieng Tiny (blue) and VNB capt Luu Ngoc Hung
The Cambodian team waiting in line for the hand-shakes
The Cambodian bench before the match
Scott O'Donell, Cambodia's coach and his Ninh Binh counterpart at the after-match press conference

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