NICK SELLS nicksellsphotography.com
Phnom Penh Crown’s Oscar Mpoko (centre) kicks past Khemara Keila’s David Adeyinka (right) during their CPL match June 3.
MAKARA BE, the tough-talking manager of Phnom Penh Crown, has vowed to resign his position if his team fail to beat bottom side Phouchung Neak in their Cambodian Premier League match Saturday. League and Cup champions Crown flew back to Phnom Penh Tuesday after their unsuccessful participation of this year's AFC President's Cup in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, which saw them fail to qualify for the semifinals after losing two and winning one of their Group C matches.
Manager Makara Be bemoaned his side's dismal outing in the Kyrgyzstan capital, blaming his defenders for the 4-3 loss of their first match against Myanmar's Kanbawza and crowd hostilities for the 2-1 loss of their second game against home team Dordoi-Dynamo.
"My defenders let me down in the first match," stated Makara Be. "We were leading three goals to one; [then] suddenly my defenders couldn't cope with the pressure from the opponent."
"This is common with Cambodian teams," the manager said.
"We were affected by the crowd in the second game," he continued. "The moment we scored the first goal against the home team, the spectators started throwing beer bottles on the field. My players became scared and jittery; thus we lost concentration.
"I wonder what would have happened if we'd have won," Makara Be added. "The officials couldn't do anything against the hostile crowd."
Despite their humbling in Bishkek, the Crown manager is looking for his team to take the league by storm once again, with experience from the international tournament put to full effect. The team remains more-or-less intact, with the only notable exception being Cameroonian midfielder Oscar Mpoko, who is a doubt for Saturday's game with an ankle injury.
"I promise you, come Saturday my team will win," Makara Be declared. "If we don't win, I will resign my post."
Crown have mustered only seven points from five league games and currently lie four points above the drop zone with two games in hand. However, in a topsy-turvy season with teams failing to find consistency, Crown would see themselves catapulted to second place if they were to grab wins from both of these games.
Committee deals out bans
Meanwhile, the disciplinary committee of the Cambodian Football Federation (FFC) has handed out punishments to Makara Be, his assistant coach Cheat Vichet and assistant referee Yem Manoura for their role in the ill-fated June 3 match between Phnom Penh Crown and Khemara Keila, which ended goalless. The match was shrouded in controversy after the referee ruled that a last-minute goal by Crown's Jean Roger Lappe Lappe had been offside. Assistant referee Yem Manuora, who flagged for the infringement, has been suspended for four games for his apparent misjudgment, and Makara Be and Cheat Vichet have been banished to the stands for two matches following their unruly behaviour and vocal dissent to match officials.
"I am not happy with the decision," Makara Be grumbled. "They suspended me and my assistant for two games, yet we are not awarded the point.
"That is not fair, but we have to accept the decision and move on," he said diplomatically.
FFC Secretary Sethycheat Ouk declined to give an official response, saying that Doungmeas Chamroeun, president of the committee, has "made the decision and we stand by it".
Keo Sarin, a member of the committee, tried to explain the rational behind the decision to suspend the club officials, in spite of the error made by the assistant referee.
"We suspended [the Crown managers] because they insulted the officials, [which is] against the rule of the game," he said. "My president [Doungmeas Chamroeun] would have handed a harsher punishment, with a heavy fine, [but] we considered [that] Cambodia is just developing, and so we try to be lenient.... Next time we will be more strict on such offenders."
Keo Sarin added that Yem Manoura's suspension for error of judgment will help to deter other officials from making mistakes on important decisions.