Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Crown march on in AFC Cup

Crown march on in AFC Cup

Crown march on in AFC Cup

110524_24
Phnom Penh Crown's Chan Chaya (second left) celebrates scoring what turns out to be the game winning goal against Abhani Limited during their AFC President's Cup group match at Olympic Stadium yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Phnom Penh Crown's Chan Chaya (second left) celebrates scoring what turns out to be the game winning goal against Abhani Limited during their AFC President's Cup group match at Olympic Stadium yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Hard working midfielder Chan Chaya struck a vital blow in the 80th minute from a goal-mouth scramble to haul Phnom Penh Crown past Bangladesh champions Abhani Limited 1-0 before a motley crowd at Olympic Stadium yesterday, ensuring a place for the Cambodians in the next phase of the 2011 AFC President’s Cup.

Earlier in the afternoon, Neftchi Kochor Ata of Kyrgyzstan dictated their own pace and terms in downing Sri Lanka’s Don Bosco Sports Club 2-0 for their second victory in Pool A. Coach Dzhalilov Zakir’s men were unfazed by the dismissal of Rakhmanjonov for his second booking on the hour mark and fired a goal in each half to also secure their place in the next round. The side’s Uzbek recruit Pavlov Pavel got the first and midfielder Aleksander Beldinov doubled the lead midway through the second half.

Neftchi and Crown play tomorrow at 4pm to determine the final standings from Pool A, while Abhani and Don Bosco will figure earlier at 1:30pm in a match of honour.

It is not celebration time yet if you ask Crown’s Croatian-born Coach Bojan Hodak, who feels there is still the serious business of topping the group left. Neftchi’s young coach Zakir, whose theatrics and animated gestures during a game has become a hit with the crowd, also left no one in doubt at the post match press conference that his side is out to win all three games.

Yesterday’s game between Crown and Abhani was “fifty-fifty” according to Hodak, although Crown appeared decidedly dominant in the second half. Abhani coach Aliakbar Pourmoslemi simplified it even further. “Both sides had almost equal chances. We failed to convert them – they did,” he said.

Pourmoslemi held out no excuses but took pains to point out that the team had been hamstrung by injuries to some key players and was forced to use their third choice goalkeeper because the top two couldn't make the trip.

“I have two more good foreign players, but I couldn’t use them here because we are allowed only two foreign players here,” he said, adding that they would now “go back and try to do well in our league.”

After a barren first half of exciting twists and turns during which both sides enjoyed several set-piece chances, the contest came to a boil as the teams went at each others’ throats.

A couple of lively runs by Kouch Sokhumpeak had stirred the Abhani defence though the backline had remained vigilant enough to deprive the home side a goal.

In another thrustful counter, Mohammad Robin drove the ball straight at Crown keeper Peng Bunchhay who boasted a clean slate in five previous matches. That confidence showed in his collection and watch throughout the game.

Crown forced two corners with time ticking away and the second brought the result the crowd had been fervently cheering for. A good Sun Sophana delivery to the near post set off a chaotic scrap in which Kingsley Metu had the presence of mind to turn the ball to Chan Chaya, whose flick conveniently beat the frenzy.

In a flash, the contest had turned tantalisingly Crown’s way with the team ending their President’s Cup hoodoo by making it past the pool stage for the first time. Crown incidentally is only the second team from Cambodia to qualify for phase two of this prestigious regional club competition after Khemara Keila made it to the semifinals in 2006.

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth