Sunday, November 15, 2009

In more depth

Jubilant scenes as Cambodia's skipper Sun Sovannarith collects the BIDC Cup
Cambodia's U23 youngsters showed real grit and determination to pull off a great BIDC Cup victory against a very strong Vietnamese outfit in HAGL a few hours ago. This win on home soil will give the youngsters the right sort of confidence boost ahead of the SEA Games in a couple of weeks where they will face two of the best teams in Asian football in the group stages. At Olympic Stadium last night, coach Scott O'Donell sprang no surprises and named his strongest line-up for the tournament decider and it paid dividends on 12 minutes when Chan Chhaya raced onto a Kuoch Sokumpheak through ball and finished with aplomb inside the near post. Sokumpheak had a couple of half chances before the crowd were on their feet again on 37 minutes as Chhaya rose unchallenged in the box and headed in Khim Borey's inch-perfect corner. The massive crowd went beserk. In time added on at the end of the 1st half, HAGL's Brazilian striker Toledo made no friends when he failed to give the ball back after an injury stoppage, beat two defenders and blasted the ball against the crossbar. It was cleared to safety though the Brazilian claimed it had crossed the goal-line. In my view he should've been booked for unsporting behaviour.
Leading 2-nil at the break, Cambodia had to weather an onslaught from HAGL and were unable to stop a thunderbolt of a shot from HAGL's Le Van Truong that arrowed its way past Samreth Seiha from 25 yards, 9 minutes after the break. Four minutes later HAGL were level. Pheak Rady was caught in possession and Tran Minh Thien finished with a fierce shot inside the near post. The game was in the balance and both sides had half chances, with Pheak Rady redeeming himself with a last-ditch tackle on Vo Ut Cuong as he shaped to shoot, whilst Prak Mony Udom made space for a shot at the other end, but fired over. O'Donell threw on three pairs of fresh legs and three minutes from time, one of the subs, Lay Raksmey sent over a sublime cross that found Kuoch Sokumpheak in space ten yards out and his downward header bounced into the corner of the net. 3-2 to Cambodia. Queue wild celebrations around the stadium. Cambodia saw out 5 minutes of added time, with Seiha's safe handling a real feature of the game and confirmed his pick as the best goalkeeper in the competition, with a $1,000 reward for the stopper. The players celebrated the final whistle by throwing their shirts into the crowd and deservedly enjoyed their moment of glory.
In the award ceremonies that followed, skipper Sun Sovannarith held aloft the BIDC Cup as the players received $20,000 as a cash prize from the sponsors and another $5,000 from the FFC, in addition to a new moto for each of the playing squad and coaching staff. With Samreth Seiha collecting the $1,000 as best goalkeeper, the same prize money went to the Laos skipper Kitsada as the tournament's most valuable player (I voted for his teammate Soukhavong Kaysone) and HAGL's Evaldo Goncaves scooped the top goalscorer award with three goals. More importantly, it sent Cambodia off to the SEA Games in Laos with the ecstatic chants of their fans ringing in their ears and the determination and unity they showed in abundance in their locker.
The Cambodia U23 team: Samreth Seiha, Pheak Rady (Lay Raksmey), Sun Sovannarith, Tieng Tiny, Sok Rithy, San Narith, Khim Borey (Lorn Sotheara), Keo Sokngorn (Prak Mony Udom), Nov Soseila (Oum Kumpheak), Chan Chhaya (Khuon Laboravy), Kuoch Sokumpheak.
Sun Sovannarith leads out the team for the BIDC Cup final
Its hand-shake time again
Sun Sovannarith and the HAGL skipper Duuong Van Pho
Apprehensive youngsters on the Cambodian bench
A view of the game and the watching crowd at Olympic Stadium last night
The main stand at last night's game with part of the 30,000 crowd

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