By KEN GADAFFI
Kirivong Sok Sen Chey manager Lay La is confident of making the Super 4.
Phouchung Neak’s Christian Okeke argues with a match referee Wednesday.
Ministry, Federations fight over refs
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and sports federations are locked in ongoing feud over the rights to match officials. While the Ministry have current control over the commissioning, training and selection of referees, the Football and Basketball federations have voiced their desire to have direct control of those that officiate their matches. Some referees have said they are eager to tie up with the federations, who promise more attractive wage packages. If this current imbroglio is not resolved, it will continue to affect the standard of the officiating with officials from the federations lamenting the ministry's interference in their affairs.
Naga coach spits fire
With only 4 points from 4 games, Naga Corp manager Micheal Thach Nen is already growing restless. After Sunday's 1-0 loss to Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, Thach Nen gave his players an ear-bashing whilst still on the pitch. He then vehemently rejected the customary handshake with opposing team officials after the game. "I am not in the mood for shaking," he retorted. As if that wasn't enough, the players were subjected to further hairdryer treatment upon returning to the changing room.
Lay La is dreaming of Super 4
Kirivong Sok Sen Chey manager Lay La is already looking ahead to the CPL's postseason competition, the Super 4. Introduced for this year's competition, the Super 4 will see the top four finishers in the league enter a playoff to decide the final standings. Last season, Kirivong were struggling to avoid relegation but ended up finishing 6th. So far this season, the team from Takeo Province are riding high on top of the league with 9 points from 4 matches, with their only defeat coming at the hands of newly promoted side, Spark FC May 20. However, Lay La was ecstatic after his team defeated hard fighting NAGA Corp by a solitary goal on Sunday. "I think we can qualify for the Super 4, my team is now strong," he said after the match.
Coach Andy ready for rescue
Former Khemara Keila and Kirivong Sok Sen Chey tactician, Andrew Ehiwarior, or coach Andy for short, is looking forward to another rescue mission. While watching Post Tel Club fall to Ministry of Defence Sunday, the Nigerian born coach said that he is waiting to be called back to the dug out of any of the struggling teams. Coach Andy was the first African man in charge of a CPL side, and has exhibited a Midas touch during his time in Cambodia. In September 2007, former champion Khemara were facing relegation after a string of losses. Ehiwarior was drafted in to salvage the fledgling club and, within just eight matches, he took Khemara to second position, losing the title to Naga Corp on the very last day. In September 2008, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey had only 4 games left and were languishing in the bottom two when they made the call to coach Andy. He again turned things around, with the team eventually finishing sixth. As in 2007, he was dumped after the season ended and now awaits another distress call. "Yeah, I am used to it here now," he said. "They only need me when the going gets tough.
"Who knows, Post Tel or Phouchung Neak may knock on my door soon, and I am readily available to use my wealth of experience to take them out of troubled waters," Ehiwarior said as he walked out of the Olympic Stadium.
FFC brings it back to the roots
The Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) are turning their attention towards grassroots soccer development. According to the deputy secretary May Tola, the FFC plan to start youth soccer developments in all the Kingdom's provinces. Problems they face include a dearth of quality youth coaches, as they look to FIFA for assistance with technical support. Meanwhile, Asia Football Group Pte Ltd from Singapore are planning to organize a soccer camp for young students between the ages of 5 and 16 years old slated for July. Company director Jimmy Beh stated by phone that the group will visit Cambodia, arriving on June 15, to meet with officials on how to implement the soccer camp.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)