Sunday, September 11, 2011

Clean sweep

Mixing with the stars of the tournament, the PPCFC2 team, who won the cup final. Back Row LtoR: Rumnea, K Chhaya, S Samnang, Ronaldo, Baraing, Sovann, Titchhy, myself. Front Row: Ponvuthy, Piphop, Noeut, David, Phearath, V Samnang
I'm sunburnt but happy after a great weekend of youth tournament football, culminating in today's cup final and a clean sweep for the youngsters from the Phnom Penh Crown Academy. The two teams from the Crown Academy, out of the six that took part, dutifully won through to the final of the First State Gold Investment Cup competition this morning - hosted by the Crown Academy at their Tuol Kork RSN Stadium - after yesterday's round-robin matches left the PPCFC2 team at the top on ten points and PPCFC1 in 2nd spot on 9 points. The first day's games were played in high spirits with plucky efforts from the boys from EYC and CFO finding it tough going against the professionally coached boys from the Singapore Academy ISA and the two Crown teams. Two teams from Vietnam had pulled out at the 11th hour and EYC came in as a last-minute replacement. All the teams played each other and the final round-robin match came down to the two Crown sides meeting in an even encounter that PPCFC2 won with Ouk Sovann scoring to claim the overnight bragging rights. All the teams then gathered at the Diamond Hotel for dinner before returning this morning for the play-offs for the final placings. ISA from Singapore took third place, defeating CFO before the cup final, with PPCFC1 facing PPCFC2, and beamed live to homes around Cambodia by the TVK channel, gave everyone a feast of football to showcase what can be achieved by Cambodian youngsters. In a see-saw final match, PPCFC1 came storming out of the blocks and Mat Sakrovy netted to put them ahead. That was the cue for Vat Samnang, one of the smallest players in the tournament, to stand head and shoulders above everyone else with two goals, a 25 yard strike that fizzed into the top corner and a close range finish, that won the cup for PPCFC2 in extra time. Samnang was small enough for his teammates to hoist him above their heads in celebration. As they put him down, he was in tears as he spoke to his mum in Battambang on a mobile phone. After the presentations, both of the Crown teams joined together in a double celebration, proudly showing off their two cups and their medals. A fabulously successful weekend for youth football, ably hosted by the Crown, with their Academy youngsters taking the top honours. It doesn't get much better than this.
The two Crown Academy teams celebrate their joint success

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