Phnom Penh Crown will almost certainly miss out on their second successive berth in the final of the AFC President’s Cup after an absolute hiding by Kyrgyzstan champions Dordoi Bishkek on Wednesday night in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which rooted them firmly to the foot of the Group A standings.
According to Crown media officer Andy Brouwer, who travelled with the squad, coach David Booth was scathing in his assessment of team’s 8-0 capitulation to the Kyrgyzstani champions.
“We suffered from two headers, two goals in the first few minutes, so it was always downhill from there,” Booth was quoted as saying on Brouwer’s personal blog (cambodiafootball.blogspot.com).
“But the players gave up. No excuses, I can’t defend them. I can’t say we played any good football. I can’t say anything positive about the game, except we made a lot of mistakes and gave them a lot of goals.
The 63-year-old English coach admitted the only positive he could draw from their overwhelming loss was the performance of goalkeeper Samreth Seiha.
“We’ve had our problems this year at the club, and I think it showed here today. It’s impossible for me to sit here and try to defend that game ... The players don’t care, they didn’t show any commitment whatsoever to win that game. It was just a disgraceful performance.”
Dordoi defender Azamat Baymatov was the star of the show, opening the scoring on five minutes before producing the goal of the game on 72 minutes, a 30-metre screamer from a free kick, and then rounding off his hat-trick in the final minute.
Other scorers included David Tetteh, Valeriy Kichin, Anderson de Souza, Islam Shamshiev and Nurkal Sataev, while the Cambodians had little to offer in attack and were clearly missing the commanding presence of Nigerian Odion Obadin at the back.
In Wednesday’s earlier Group B match, Taiwan Power Company kept their hopes of retaining the title alive with a 3-1 win over Pakistan’s KRL.
Crown now face the practically impossible task of outscoring home side Istiqlol FC by a minimum of 10 goals in tonight’s game, at 9pm Cambodian time. “We’ve got one more game; we can’t do any worse than that,” said Booth.
Keeper Seiha has been ruled out after spraining his wrist during one of his many miraculous stops on Wednesday. He will be replaced by Yok Ary.
Istiqlol, who beat Dordoi 2-0 in their opening tie, need just a point to progress to Sunday’s grand final, which kicks off at 9pm at the Central Republican Stadium in Dushanbe. Palestinian side Markaz Shabab Al-Am’ari are still in with a shout of a place in the final, and require a two-goal or better goal margin against KRL tonight at 6pm.
Meanwhile, Booth’s despondency with his team was evident and it now seems likely he will leave the club before the start of any new campaign.
“The next game is my last game as my contract expires in October. At the moment I will be happy to go. I have a couple of options to consider. I’ll take a holiday to see my family and then decide where to go,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Riley at [email protected]