Phnom Penh Crown saw their record-setting run in the 2011 AFC President’s Cup end in heartbreak after a 3-2 defeat to hosts Taiwan Power Company in Sunday’s final in Kaohsiung, which was marred by a triple sending off for the Cambodian side during injury time.
The game finished in controversy, as Crown players violently clashed with Taipower team members following a 94th minute denial of a penalty by referee Marai Mohammed A Alawaji. The incident, which involved Taipower defender Tu Ming-Feng tripping Crown’s Hong Rathana in the area, saw Sun Sovanrithy, San Narith and Chan Chaya unable to control their anger at the decision, with clear pushes on the Saudi official warranting straight reds.
Highlights of the match posted on youtube (account djcowboy416, video length 13:11) seem to support the infuriation of the Cambodians, including a 62nd minute penalty given against them when Chen Po-Liang appeared to dive over the outstretched leg of Odion Obadin.
Despite Taipower midfielder Hung Kai-Chun blasting the spotkick over the bar, the home side capitalised on poor defending from the visitors to clinch their inaugural title. Goals included a brace by He Ming-chan and a strike from tournament MVP Chen Po-liang.
Crown had equalised in the first half through Nigerian striker Kingsley Njoku, and had given themselves a glimpse of hope in the 82nd minute via a Sun Sovannrithy header.
Following the conclusion of Sunday’s clash, He Ming-chan secured the Golden Boot trophy as top scorer with a total of six goals while Kyrgyzstan club Neftchi Kochkor-Ata collected the Fair Play award.
Crown head coach David Booth’s reaction was one of obvious disappointment. “We made too many mistakes today and it’s cost us,” he said in an post-match interview posted on cambodianfootball.blogspot.com.
“We fought back in the game and in the last five minutes we could’ve equalized. The referee decided not to give us anything.
“It was a definite penalty, our player chested the ball down past two players and was brought down. The referee has got to be answerable for his decision, though I’d like to see it again. At the end, we saw the frustration of our players.”
Crown are likely to face stiff sanctions from the AFC for their ugly display after the final whistle, which may jeopardise their participation in the completion next year as reigning Metfone C-League champions.
In other news, Myanmar have made a formal application to allow their league winners to play in the 2012 AFC Cup, the next tier up from the President’s Cup. If confirmed, a champion club from Mongolia is likely to replace the Burmese team in next year’s President’s Cup.
TRANSLATED BY IN SOPHENG, ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAN RILEY