An action-packed set of fixtures Sunday at Battambang’s VTC field decided the overall standings of SALT Academy’s third season of football leagues for youths
Crossroad’s girls team player Choub Chanry (left) bounces her shot off the crossbar to the delight of Catholic team keeper El Faryna during the penalty shootout in the Big Girls final in Battambang Sunday.
THE third SALT Academy football league season came to a close Sunday with the top four standings in each of the four divisions decided by matches played over the afternoon at the VTC field in Battambang.
In the U12 boys third-place playoff, KCS met little resistance from opponents COL, running out comfortable 4-0 winners. The U12 golden boot was awarded to KCS's Run Pidou, who scored a goal in the final to add to his impressive season tally of 15.
The U14 boys competition third place went to the Homeland team, a day after their disappointing penalty shootout loss in a Phnom Penh tournament. Homeland's Rosak Kirin grabbed the golden boot for the U14 competition with 16 goals to his name this season.
In the Big Girls division, ASPECA continued to show itself to be a team with the most football potential, growing in skill and teamwork with every game. ASPECA Girls beat TTA to third place with a resounding 4-0 victory. ASPECA's Mao Raksmey tied for most goals in the season with Homeland's Hout Mom, and also went home with the MVP title.
The U17 boys third place match was unfortunately overshadowed by conflict between players, with the losing team responding physically to their defeat. The SALT Academy was disappointed to see players fighting, but the aim of the organisation, it said, is to give kids opportunities they wouldn't have been granted otherwise to learn life lessons. Even if the children did not respond well this time, the hope is that, over time, they will learn more about themselves and others, improving their ability to respond to life situations more intelligently and to resolve conflicts peacefully.
The U12 boys finals saw a smaller, more talented Catholic team lose to KFC in a tense encounter decided by a solitary converted penalty. Even though the Catholic team lost the game, their Heun Mesa took home the U12 MVP title, and the team left determined to try again for the No 1 spot next year.
A Catholics team took the field again for the U14 boys final and opponents Crossroads proved to be no match. Catholics dominated the game, winning 4-1, with most damage inflicted by Man Obtollous, who scored a hat trick in the game and won MVP for the season.
The Big Girls final seemed destined to give the Catholics yet another title after a stunning long-range effort by Yeun Channa.
However, in the dying minutes, Crossroads' Lay Mary - nicknamed Beckham by colleagues - grabbed a late equaliser to force the game into extra time. With no shots on target during the additional period, the game progressed to penalties. The Catholics team has never lost in a shootout and Sunday's game was no different. The Crossroads girls gave a valiant effort, but with a shot bouncing off the crossbar and another two saved, the Catholics girls took home the first-place trophy for the second year in a row.
The afternoon's action climaxed with the final of the U17 boys competition, featuring unbeaten favourites ASPECA against CAMA, more commonly known as Jerusalem. ASPECA were missing their all-star forward, and winner of the Golden Boot, Dol Mony, who had scored 12 goals during the season but was sidelined for the final game. The lack of firepower was evident with ASPECA struggling to pressure their opponents. A fine effort from Jerusalem's Long Boran before an unlucky deflection off the back of a defender from an upfield clearance ricocheted back into the net to put Jerusalem two goals ahead at the interval. The second half gave ASPECA a ray of hope early on after a cross was headed into the goal by a Jerusalem defender.
But with 12 minutes to go, Jerusalem scored once again to seal the win, despite a seemingly offside call that was missed by the referee. Jerusalem captain Bun Sothea was awarded MVP for the U17 boys, along with the honour of lifting the winner's trophy for his team.