Phnom Penh Crown captain Kouch Sokumpheak (r) takes on Dordoi Dynamo’s Talant Samsaliev during their AFC President’s Cup match at Olympic Stadium yesterday. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
A penalty in the dying seconds of a hard-fought, rain-ravaged contest at Olympic Stadium yesterday gave Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan a 1-0 victory over a gallant Phnom Penh Crown in the Group B decider of the 2012 AFC President’s Cup.
Victory for the visitors in this bone-cruncher took them to the top of the four-team group with an all-win record.
The local giants and defending Metfone C-League champions finished second with two wins.
Both teams will move up to September’s final phase of the competition at a destination to be chosen from one of the six finalist nations.
In the earlier kickoff yesterday, Nepal Police Club recorded their only win of this year’s group stage by defeating Yeedzin FC from Bhutan 4-0. The Bhutan sided were squarely beaten in all of their three matches in Cambodia.
Crown’s English-born coach David Booth succinctly summed up the high intensity game in a post match chat with the Post.
“We lost our concentration at the wrong time. We played well for 89 minutes and the penalty took the gloss off our hard work,” said the coach.
A blind charge into the box by Dordoi hitman Kaiumzhan Sharipov on 90 minutes set off a panic reaction in the Crown backline, resulting in defender Pheak Rady bringing the Kyrgyz forward down.
Referee Sukhbir Singh of Singapore had no hesitation in awarding a penalty to the away side.
Amid feverish shouting from the packed crowd baying for a miss, Azamat Baimatov kept his cool and neatly converted the spotkick to seal Crown’s fate.
Sharp showers greeted the players at the kickoff, and in the next 18 minutes it was a frustrating downpour.
With the pitch quickly turning into a quagmire, referee Singh in consultation with the other three match officials and the two captains decided to suspend play for half an hour.
When the game resumed, the rain had relented but the conditions continued to be testy and tormenting for both sides.
Slips and slides were frequent and controlled football seemed out of question.
“We were comfortable for most of the game under conditions which were not ideal for good football. On a day like this you can not talk much about creativity,” said Booth. “Overall I am happy that we are in the next stage. We have to play our best in the Singapore Cup next week. We are playing the best team.”
Crown will head to Singapore for a Wednesday night match against S.League champions Tampines Rovers without the services of Ghanaian midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, who will be out of action for a few more weeks following a torn muscle during their game against Yeedzin last Saturday.
Dordoi, meanwhile, were dealt a similar blow.
The Kygyzstan side lost the services of star striker Mirlan Murazaev to a hamstring injury for the whole of second half yesterday.
Dordoi’s Russian coach Sergey Dvoryankov conceded that it was a hard game for both.
“I am happy we won, and we want to win the AFC President’s Cup this year. That is our prime target,” he said.
Both goalkeepers and defensive lines were stretched to their limits.
Most notable saves of the day were York Ary getting in the way of Dordoi’s Anderson de Souza and Pavel Matiash blocking a hot drive from Crown’s Sos Sohana.
Both these attempts had a goal written all over them until the keepers turned them away to safety.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at firstname.lastname@example.org