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By: HanumanAndy Posted: May-23-2011 in
The Phnom Penh Crown team that recorded a 3-0 AFC President's Cup win over Don Bosco on Saturday.
HanumanAndy

The AFC President's Cup, the biggest international football club tournament ever to be staged in Cambodia, kicked-off on Saturday with hosts Phnom Penh Crown looking to begin their competition with a win over the Sri Lankan champions, Don Bosco Sports Club, and that's exactly what they did. In a confident display in front of a partisan crowd of thousands at the Olympic Stadium, Crown recorded a 3-0 success, kept another clean sheet, their fifth in a row, and will even be a little disappointed that they didn't add more to their tally, as they dominated their opponents for much of the match, with their neat passing game and incisive finishing.

Crown's head coach Bojan Hodak offered a note of caution after the match, despite the resounding victory. "I was more or less happy but our guys were a little excited and they ran like mad for thirty minutes, pressing the Sri Lankan team, creating chances, getting the penalty, scoring...they need to learn how to pace themselves...when to speed up, when to slow down. In my opinion, they got excited and the crowd pushed them... We will need to improve to get success."

The match against Don Bosco got underway with Crown probing their opponents and on 19 minutes looked set to open the scoring. Sun Sopanha's long raking ball released Chan Chaya and his quick feet in the box drew a mistimed tackle from Thilina Arachchilage, with referee Vladislav Tseytlin immediately pointing to the penalty spot. Up stepped defender Tieng Tiny to take the spot-kick but he rolled his strike agonizingly wide to the disbelief of the home crowd. Crown were on top and made their superiority count on 25 minutes. Thul Sothearith and Chan Chaya combined to set up Kingsley Njoku, who burst between two defenders and fired in a low drive that nestled in the far corner to give the home side a deserved lead, which they maintained until the break.

The second half began brightly for Crown when Sun Sopanha's inswinging corner was dropped on his goal-line by Kumara only for the keeper to recover his error. On 66 minutes, Sopanha was strong in the challenge, fed Kouch Sokumpheak and the Crown marksman sidefooted his finish wide of Kumara for their second goal. Little more than a minute later, Njoku put Chan Chaya in space and he kept his shot low across the face of goal for Crown's third, to send the home fans into raptures. A few minutes later Sopanha looked to have added another when his bye-line chip eluded Kumara but was hacked clear of the line by Dilki Wewalage.

A bad miss in front of goal by Chan Chaya was the easiest opportunity of the game and then that was it in terms of goalmouth action, as Crown recorded a morale-boosting success, cheered on by thousands in the main grandstand, giving themselves a real opportunity to qualify from this AFC President's Cup group competition if they can achieve similar success in their next two matches. In the first game of the tournament, the favorites Neftchi of Kyrgyzstan had too much know-how for Abahani, the champions of Bangladesh and won comfortably. Marat Adzhiniiazov, with a 30-yard stunner, and Pavel Pavlov scored the goals in a 2-0 success.

The next stage of the AFC President's Cup competition takes place on Monday 23 May with Don Bosco meeting Neftchi at 1.30pm and Phnom Penh Crown facing Abahani at 4pm, both games at the Olympic Stadium. The final round of games when Crowm meet Nefchi (4pm) will be on Wednesday 25 May.

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