Phnom Penh Crown face Singapore’s Etoile FC in the Singapore Cup tonight
Uche Prince Justine (left, front) and Phnom Penh Crown teammates will face a tough test against the French expatriate side Etoile FC of the Singapore S-League tonight in their Singapore Cup match.
Phnom Penh Crown manager Makara Be (right) and coach Apisit Im Amphai are hoping to build an unassailable lead in the first half.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
PP CROWN Squad list
Peng Bunchhay, Thorng Chanrasmey
Ek Sovannara, Tieng Tiny, Lar Pichseila, Sani Saidu, Chan Dara
Thul Sothearith, Olisa Onyemerea, Srey Veasna, Hong Ratana, Friday Nwankuna, Phoung Narong, Sun Sopanha,
Chan Chhaya, Keo Sokngorn, Sok Pheng, Uche Prince Justine, Heng Sok Ly
Manager: Be Makara
Coach: Apisit Im Amphai
Goalkeeping Coach: Prak Vanny
Assistant coaches: Hao Socheat and Bouy Dary
Phnom Penh Crown, currently second in the Metfone C-League, travelled to Singapore Wednesday night ahead of their first-round match of 2010 Singapore Cup 2010. They face Singaporean outfit Etoile FC at 6:30pm this evening at Jalan Besar stadium.
The tournament, which has been held annually since 1997, sees four visiting teams from the region compete with a dozen sides from the local S-League. Cambodian flag-bearers Phnom Penh Crown have been invited to take part since 2006, and will be joined this year by Australian heavyweights South Melbourne FC, Bangkok Glass from Thailand and Hong Kong side Kitchee FC.
Crown manager Be Makara recognises the challenge poised by their Cup rivals Etoile, who are comprised entirely of French professional players and who formed this year to play in the S-League, becoming the eighth foreign team to do so. They currently also sit second in their domestic league, and have already tasted success this year in the Singapore League Cup.
After watching the matches of Etoile FC on VCD, Be Makara noted the physical advantage many held over his squad members, with some measuring nearly two metres in height. However, he revealed a possible flaw in Etoile’s gameplan that he wished to exploit.
“[Etoile] always allow their opponents to control the ball in the first half because they save their force for the second half,” Makara stated. “We can also use this tactic against them.”
A real concern for Crown will be the playing surface, with the majority of their players brought up playing on grass, whereas the game against Etoile will be on an artificial pitch.
“Our players will find it difficult to control the ball, and some of them might suffer injury because of the field,” declared the manager.
Be Makara and Thai coach Apisit Im Amphai said they expected their forward pairing of Uche Prince Justine and Keo Sokngorn will cooperate well to score for the team.
In their inaugural trip to the Singapore Cup in 2006, Crown were trounced 8-1 by five-time Cup winners and eight-time S-League champions SAFFC.
A year later, they were knocked out by Sengkang Punggol FC 4-3.
Then in 2008, they lost 2-0 to Young Lions, who are made up of U23 Singapore national team players, but took swift revenge the following year by beating the team 2-0 in the same fixture.
Crown advanced for the first time to the two-leg quarterfinals, where they met Thai team Bangkok Glass.
In the first leg, Crown striker Chan Chhaya opened the scoring after just 8 minutes, but Bangkok Glass fought back to net two goals either side of the interval.
Then, in an enthralling second leg, the teams drew 3-3 to see Bangkok Glass progress to the semifinals with a 5-4 aggregate.