Thursday, April 30, 2009
Publicity shot 1976
Labels: Steel Pulse
Mannox magic and more
early history of reggae legends Steel Pulse has always intrigued me. They've been my band of choice since I saw them at Cheltenham Town Hall in 1978, some four years after their formation in the backstreets of Handsworth in Birmingham. The founding fathers of the band were David Hinds and Basil Gabbidon. They were best friends, both attending sixth form at Handsworth Wood and they both had Saturday jobs at the Co-Op supermarket in Winson Green. They loved music and they loved art. So much so that they left Handsworth Wood and went to the Bournville College of Art to continue their studies. Basil took a one year vocational course in graphics and David, who joined Basil in the supermarket on Saturday's only, took a foundation course in art studies and later moved onto the School of Art at Margaret Street, the Art Department of Birmingham Polytechnic. It was during his first year at Margaret Street in 1974 that David painted this self-portrait. It's oil paint on cotton duck canvas, 21"x20" and shows David at home - and is a unique piece of artwork by one of the world's leading reggae artists.
Why you ask? Well, it's all to do with next year's eight-team finals in India (to be played in July 2010). The last of the qualifying spots will go to the best ranked runners up out of the four qualifying groups. That would've been easy to pick the best ranked based on points accrued or goal difference or even greater number of goals scored. However, the fly in the ointment is that the number of teams in the groups became lopsided when Afghanistan withdrew. That means the qualifiers will have played an unequal number of group matches so to ensure equality, a comparison mechanism needs to be adopted. The AFC version states that all teams must be compared across a similar number of matches, and their decision is that the result of matches between the runners up and the bottom-placed team in the group will be considered null and void. All points and goals will not be taken into account. And the best ranked runners up will then be based on the following criteria: greater number of points, goal difference, greater number of goals, fewer yellow/red cards or drawing lots.
Are you still with me? Lots of ifs and buts of course but that's always the way with qualifying group stages in major competitions. Qualification from Group A rests on the two matches being played in Bangladesh later today and they are both finely poised to bring us the thrills and spills of knock-out football. I wouldn't have it any other way.
You can read the AFC competition regulations here.
May's Meta highlights
Meta House, on Street 264 in Phnom Penh, will also be screening Site 2 by Rithy Panh on the 30th, and earlier that week, on the 27th, a double-bill of John Pilger's The Betrayal and Tom Fawthrop's Dreams & Nightmares, both documentaries from 1989 and exposing the West's support of Pol Pot. It's a packed month to be honest, with the We Want You To Know! film - with scenes of the KR period recreated by villagers on Sunday 10th - and lots of other interesting films on show, as well as the usual exhibitions and a Pride 09 film festival that focuses on the LGBT community in Cambodia. Link: Meta House.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The word from Dhaka
Back to the game against Macau. Team coach Sovannara rang the changes for this, their second game of the competition, including Om Thavrak, Khoun Laboravy and Keo Sokngorn from the start, with Pok Chanthan sidelined through injury and regular striker Kouch Sokumpheak amongst the substitutes. With the coach's instructions to attack their opponents from the first whistle, Cambodia began with a flourish and took a 12th minute lead when Teab Vathanak (pictured) controlled a pass from Khim Borey and scored with a low drive into the corner. So far so good. With Cambodia dominating possession, Sovannara made two first-half substitutions, bringing on San Narith and Sokumpheak to add to his attacking options, but it was his team's inability to convert a hatful of goal-scoring chances that left them with just a 1-goal half-time lead. The coach was not happy, as he explained to me. "We began well, with perfect tactics and strategy and had about 80% of the play, creating at least six golden opportunities to score. I also made two changes in my team to give us even more attacking options. But my players lost concentration at the vital moment and we lost the opportunity to add to our early goal," he said.
For the second half, and with Macau visibly tiring in the scorching 39C afternoon heat, Sovannara encouraged his team to apply even more pressure in the final third. This paid off when Keo Sokngorn rewarded the coach's decision to include him from the start, with a tap-in after a corner had struck the woodwork, on 66 minutes. It was all Cambodia again as they kept possession and pushed forward but with Macau getting players behind the ball and frustrating their opponents, it was the group underdogs who grabbed a surprise consolation goal with fifteen minutes remaining. In their only serious attack of the game, a free-kick into a crowded penalty area fell to Che Chi Man and he bundled the ball in past an otherwise redundant Samreth Seiha in the Cambodia goal.
Whilst celebrating their 2-1 success, Sovannara had expected more goals from his team. "Sometimes you need a bit of luck in front of goal and today we didn't have any. We created so many good chances but only took two of them. My team gave a good performance in terms of possession of the ball and taking the game to the opponents, they followed my instructions but we lost concentration at vital times and often, we were too hungry to score and missed the opportunity. In the second half, Macau defended in numbers and gave us fewer chances and their goal came from one silly mistake. We were definitely better than in our first game, but had there been more than a day's gap in between matches, I think we would've performed even better." Now all eyes turn towards tomorrow's final group matches. "I have no injuries so will choose from a full team against Myanmar. I hope we will win if my players keep doing the right things, show their fighting team spirit and have a strong mental approach. It will be a very tough game but I will encourage my players to believe in themselves that they can achieve a positive result," said the Cambodia coach by email this afternoon.
Postscript: Francois Ponchaud gave his lecture about the origins of Cambodian history up til the time of the French protectorate in English, which is definitely not his favoured language. However, he soldiered on, taking excerpts from his own book he's written on the country's history. The audience was a small one, but the advertising of these events was pretty low-key and last-minute, so I expect the future sessions to be well attended. I will definitely try to get along to at least a couple more, especially his lecture on the Khmer Rouge period, on Thursday 28 May. Ponchaud just happened to be one of the foreigners cooped up in the French Embassy when the KR rolled into Phnom Penh in 1975 and two years later released his relevatory book.
Out of the ashes, again
Out of the ashes, again
Screening of award-winning film, The Tenth Dancer, to be held as a benefit for renowned classical dancer and singer Em Theay and her family, whose house burned down last month.
On Sunday, May 3rd, the documentary film, The Tenth Dancer, focusing on Em Theay and one of her most accomplished classical dance students, will be shown as part of a fundraising event to help Em Theay and her family recovers from a fire that destroyed all their possessions, including a priceless 60-year-old handwritten book of song lyrics. Organized by Dr. Toni Shapiro-Phim, director of Research and Archiving at Khmer Arts in Takhmao, Cambodia, and the staff of Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, the screening will take place at 4 PM, followed by a question and answer session with Em Theay and her daughter, Thoang Kim An, also a noted classical dancer.
In just under four years, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, an estimated 80-90% of Cambodia’s professional artists perished, including most of the members of the royal dance troupe. Perhaps only one in ten survived. The Tenth Dancer is the story of one of those who did. After Pol Pot was overthrown in 1979, dance teacher and singer Em Theay returned to Phnom Penh to help rebuild the troupe. The Tenth Dancer is an intimate portrait of the relationship between a teacher who works tirelessly to pass on her unique knowledge, and her devoted pupil, set against the backdrop of a devastated country. The film weaves the past and the present, memory and dream, to reveal a story of human dignity and survival.
In March, Em Theay’s house burned down. Her family was unable to save anything, as they were trying to help the neighbours, whose house went up in flames first, not imagining the fire would spread so quickly.
Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center will host the screening/fundraiser on Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 4 PM, #64, Street 200, Phnom Penh (behind the French Cultural Center). Admission is free. Donations are requested.
The Tenth Dancer was made by Australian filmmaker Sally Ingleton who has been producing and directing award-winning documentaries for 25 years. Khmer Arts is an international NGO dedicated to fostering the vitality of Cambodian dance across borders. Also see here.
New season starts soon
Labels: Cambodia Premier League
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A thriller at Monument
Labels: Tim Hallinan
In the evening kick-off, Myanmar defeated the hosts Bangladesh 2-1 as well, with two second-half goals from Pai Soe after the booters had taken an early lead. That leaves Cambodia and the hosts Bangladesh on three points apiece with identical records, whilst Myanmar lead the table with six points. There is still everything to play for in the two final games that'll take place on Thursday, though Cambodia will have the more difficult task of defeating Myanmar and by enough of a margin to win the group or finish as the best ranked runners-up out of the four qualifying groups. This is where it starts to get mind-boggling.
The Immortal Seeds
a double-bill from 7pm of Jim Gerrand’s film The Prince & The Prophecy and Norodom Sihanouk’s movie Shadow Over Angkor. The exhibition running there at the moment is called Intercities Phnom Penh-Lijiang and it features a range of artists including Ou Vanndy, Chhea Bunna, Ouk Chim Vichet and Sokuntevy Ouer. I should have a couple of documentary nights at Meta House in May so keep an eye out for them.
Over at Equinox (St 278) on Friday is an exhibition of drawings by Khmer artist Nasy Radet called Orphan Smiles which looks interesting, whilst I hear the Messenger Band are playing at Gasolina the same night. Reyum have got a Food in Khmer exhibition running at the moment, Paul Stewart's Ramsar Site 999 - The Flooded Forests of North Cambodia photo showcase began at FCC last night, and the Bophana Center still has its Still Water exhibits on show. Finally, please do not forget that Sunday 3 May will be the benefit screening of The Tenth Dancer at Bophana Center on behalf of Em Theay and her family. I should have this confirmed later today.
Hamming it up
Note: To read the Bangladesh match report in the Phnom Penh Post, click here.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Laos to host SEA Games
Labels: SEA Games
Defeated but not down
As for the match against Bangladesh, Sovannara expressed his disappointment with the final result but was pleased with how his players performed. "My players put on a good performance from start to finish. They showed a good team spirit, good discipline and a great attitude against the hosts. We kept our focus, even when we went 1-0 down and if we had taken our chances the result could've been different. If we keep doing that, we will succeed. The players followed my instructions, but they showed too much respect to Bangladesh and I want them to be more creative in the next games. I will change the team against Macau for tactical reasons as we need to play more offensively with three strikers and two supporting from midfield and on the flanks from full-back as well. Pok Chanthan suffered an injury in the first game and the other changes I made in the game were tactical. I believe we can still win the next two games."
How did he view the Bangladesh game? "The Cambodia team played well according to our game plan and strategy. My starting eleven were selected since the training camp in Vietnam, though I changed it after half an hour and took off Vathanak, to give more cover to the defense and to create more options down the flanks. We allowed Bangladesh to have the ball, so we sat back and then counter-attacked as soon as we got the ball, especially down the flanks where the opponents were weaker. We were unlucky when Laboravy missed a great 1-on-1 situation with the goalkeeper just before half-time. The 0-0 score at half-time was a good platform for us." The second-half showing from Cambodia was much stronger as the coach explains. "After assessing our opponents, we changed our tactics and attacked more, again along the flanks and we put more pressure on them when we lost the ball. This improved our play and we got two good chances through Sokumpheak and El Nasa, but didn't score. I also made a switch with Sokngorn replacing Borey. But we lost a goal on 73 minutes when we made a mistake in a dangerous area and they scored from the free-kick. I immediately replaced Narith with Ravy and despite being a goal down, we stayed focused and fought well but we couldn't recover the goal." The result has left Cambodia needing two wins to have any hope of qualifying, and their first test will be against the minnows of Macau on Tuesday afternoon in a must-win game for Sovannara and his Cambodia squad.
Jolly on a jolly
I am in Cambodia doing "research" for a book I'm writing about my passion for travel to dodgy places. I'm visiting "The Killing Fields" tomorrow and today, I'm bizarrely off to see a man who is selling Pol Pot's shoes and loo. I've had my fill of dark depressing subjects in the last week or so and I decided to have a little look at the world of Cambodian sport.
The truth is it's a pretty minimalist area. They do play football here but they are spectacularly bad - so bad that most people support foreign teams. Their national football team was supposed to go to the Beijing Olympics but, according to rumours, the powers that be used the tickets to send their families there on a jolly. The only real sport of any consequence here is kick-boxing. I know this sport as Thai kick-boxing but call it that here only if you want to lose your teeth. Here it's Cambodian kic-boxing, but it is exactly the same. Bouts are shown regularly on TV and the gambling is intense.He also might need to watch his dentures when he talks so disparagingly about Cambodian football too! But that's the risk you take when you set yourself up for edgy, off-beat journalism.
Labels: Dom Joly
Sunday, April 26, 2009
AFC press talk
As for Macau and Myanmar, they begin the qualifying tournament in the mid-afternoon heat and that will be a tough ask in anyone's book. Macau are the underdogs of the competition but have been together for a year and a half according to their coach, so aren't afraid of anyone. Myanmar have brought a young team to the qualifiers, comprising of under-23 players as their coach searches for the next generation of senior players. All of the games will be shown live on Bangladesh television and will be played at the 36,ooo-capacity Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
4Faces opens for business
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Breathing new life into dance
Labels: Steel Pulse