Sunday, August 19, 2012
Chim 'Sva' (which means monkey) Rathanak, one of the forgotten men of Cambodian football, came off the bench to chip a delightful goal with the final kick of the game to seal a 1-1 draw in Phnom Penh Crown's last match of the regular domestic season. It was a cracking way to bring the curtain down on the club's most unsuccessful league campaign in memory and is one to quickly forget. They finished 5th and missed out on the end of season play-offs. Having got used to winning championships and cups, the Crown admirers have had to settle for a series of poor performances and reversals this term, the like of which they've not witnessed for a long while. And they will hope they don't have to witness again. It's a bit like Liverpool or Arsenal falling from grace in the British game. At one point, these clubs were invincible. Clubs that are expected to do well and to be challenging for top honours, failing to come up to scratch. Crown shot themselves in the foot when they sacked nine of the nation's best players on the eve of the new season. Finding replacement players of the same quality isn't an easy task to manage in Cambodia, and so it has proved for Crown. Even with the ultra-successful Englishman David Booth at the helm, Crown have not been able to repeat the feats of the past two seasons to capture a third successive league title. The optimists will point to the fact that they are in the finals of the AFC President's Cup again, with a trip to Tajikistan next month, but the team will need to move mountains in terms of their performances to be able to beat the best of Asia's third-tier league champions. But it's been a learning process for everyone. Football has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you think you are on top and running away with it. And rightly so. You can never guarantee success, that's afterall what makes football so adored the world over. It's unpredictable and on any day, David can beat Goliath. Crown will be hoping for some of that magic to rub off on them when they head for the Tajik capital in four weeks time. Anyone got a lucky rabbit's foot going spare?