Phnom Penh Crown come up against reigning AFC President’s Cup champions Yadanarbon of Myanmar at 6pm today in the Cambodian club’s last group game of the 2011 tournament finals played in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Crown produced a surprise 2-1 victory over Kyrgyzstan’s Neftchi Kochkor-Ata in their first Group B tie on Monday and will confirm their place in Sunday’s title match if they can win again tonight.
Crown midfielder Sun Sopanha expressed his delight at the team’s historic result in the competition. “We never do this before, we never beat a team like this,” he said.
“We always lose but now we can win. I’ve never known this from a Cambodian team. It makes me so proud.”
English-born coach David Booth gave a rousing team talk yesterday aimed at keeping confidence high.
“Last night you proved you can play at this level and win at this level. It was a true team performance,” he told his players. “You beat the favourites for the competition.”
The coach, who has spent the last 20 years plying his trade in various nations across Asia, congratulated his men on following his orders faithfully since his appointment at the end of June.
“Yesterday, you raised your standard and did exactly what I asked you to do. I think you can do more,” he added.
“I saw in you the pride, the determination, the winning mentality. I want you to show that you can move up the next level – work for the team, work for each other and work together.”
Crown have no easy task in overturning Yadanarbon who, despite a woeful recent run in their domestic league, have the experience of winning last year’s final and a talented squad that has the Cambodians beat on paper.
Celebrated striker Yan Paing, who scored five during the group stage of the tournament, and midfielder Pai Soe, who netted four, are the danger men for Crown to watch out for. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ANDY BROUWER