Squeaky Bum Time
After Sok and Phanny lit up the C-League against Kirivong it extended our lead to 6 points over Solito Angkhor who narrowly lost 1-0 against National Defence. Therefore as long as we can pick up points in our next few games and hope our relegation rivals can drop points. This starts with a tricky game against league leaders, Nagaworld. The bottom of the table currently looks like this:
Recognition in the strangest of places.
Somehow my work with EDC in the Cambodian C-League has been noticed thousands of miles away in Bolivia, where my name has been linked with Premier League outfit, ‘The Strongest.’ I strongly denied the rumours as to be honest I have only just started with EDC and want to take them as far as I can. The pundits seem to think I lack the pedigree to keep them up this season. We’ll see about that Cambodian Gary Neville!
To sum up, the board like my attacking style of play with two wingers, Veasna and Suray, but are worried about the amount of goals we are conceding with our 4-4-2 Winplay tactic. The board and fans are both looking forward to how I perform in the transfer market and I have full backing from the players. They are also disappointed with my left back, Chan Dara’s recent performances and Tum Saray’s who has been filling in on the left wing, although this is not his best position.
Match 8 – Nagaworld v EDC 18/09/20
Nagaworld are top of the table and sounds like a place you would send the missus to on a one way ticket. Joking aside this team is potentially the best teams in Cambodia and seen as we are away from home, the trickiest fixture in our C-League campaign so far. Up front is another globetrotting Nigerian called George Kelechi who gets most of their goals, backed up by a surprisingly high number of domestic players, many of which make up the Cambodian National team. It will be an interesting one this. I’m going to keep faith with the XI who put 7 past Kirivong. I have nothing really to lose.
Team: 4-4-2 Kong Rafat, Dara, Daravon, Makara, Ratana, Nara, Punlock, Veasna, Saray, Rotha, Chanraksmy
Nagaworld 1-1 EDC
Matnorotin 91 ///// Chanraksmey 15
We were so close! A last minute equaliser scuppered our chances of taking a shock three points from the league leaders. We were the better side early on and deservedly took the lead on 15 minutes when the ever dangerous Veasna’s pinpoint cross was headed home by Chanraksmy for his 11th goal of the season. Nagaworld staged an inevitable comeback and had a goal disallowed for offside shortly afterwards. EDC held firm and yes we rode our luck a bit, Kelechi forgot his shooting boots, while Kong Rafat had to bail out our defence on a few occasions with some fine saves. Then in stoppage time some scrappy midfield play saw Nagaworld come out with ball. It was played to the right wing. The cross was met with a side foot volley from Sary Matnornim to break EDC hearts., However a point was gained from this match which I would never have expected before the game and extends the clear blue water from relegation to 7 points after Solitio Angkhor succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Vishaka's North Koreans.
The Run In
There are only 4 games left this season and with a 7 point gap between us and Solitio Angkor, barring a complete disaster we should be playing C-League football next season. If we can get the next game out the way against title challengers Svey Riang, we then play the two teams directly above us, Ankhor Tiger and Asia Euro United, before ending the season at home to relegated whipping boys, Kampong Cham. This run -in gives me hope that we can definitely beat relegation and start to build for next season.
Match 9 – Svey Riang 27/09/20
Second placed Svey Riang are our opponents today, who boast a couple of Brazilians amongst their ranks, along with several Cambodian internationals and Japanese expats. This will be a tough game, but one I believe we have little to lose. The 7 point cushion from us and relegation allows a little margin for error and with a favourable run in on our side a point would be a good result here. Indeed a victory for us and results going our way elsewhere could guarantee survival. Tum Suray is a doubt with a bruised shin, so Ly Pheng gets a rare start, but otherwise I will keep faith with the eleven who almost beat Nagaworld.
Team: 4-4-2 Kong Rafat, Dara, Makara, Daravon, Ratana, Nara, Punlock, Ly Pheng, Veasna, Rotha, Chanraksmey
Svey Riang 4-1 EDC
Samnang 31 Pinheiro 36,65 //// Rotha 53
We paid for a gutless first half performance which saw us go 3-0 down before half time, with no shots on target and any attack we did muster resulted in an immediate breakaway from the opposition. The Brazilians were well, Brazilian, a cut above anything else on the pitch. Cambodian Sok Samnang opened the scoring with a thunderbolt from 30 yards out from a short free kick. You don’t stop those. Then it was the Pinheiro and Udom show. At half time, for the first time I lost my temper with the team (yes the water bottle was thrown) but this seemed to spur us into life for the second half. Rotha turned smartly on the edge of the box to slide in a consolation goal. The same player also forced a fine save from their keeper moments later. Just when a comeback may have been on, Pinheiro broke away to slip the ball home for their fourth and kill the game off completely. In their Arsenal-style red and white shirts Svey Riang are comfortably the best opposition we have played this season and deserve to become Cambodian Champions. As for us, it’s Angkhor Tiger next and perhaps a more winnable game. Solito Angkhor won 5-1 today against those acne-ridden upstarts, Bati Youth, cutting the deficit to 4 points. As a very famous Scottish football manager once said It’s Squeaky bum time!
Match 10 – Ankhor Tiger v EDC 03/10/20
Just three matches left and this is most difficult. Tiger lie in 8th place, but have a talented squad. I still think they are beatable if we play as well as we know we can. I’m going to shake the formation up a bit today and play a 4-3-3, with Suray in a more central attacking midfield role which suits his game better. Dara is dropped and Theara comes in at right back, while Ratana switches flanks to left back, his more natural position. Nara is suspended so Sedsody comes in midfield alongside Punlock
Team: Kong Rafat, Ratana, Makara, Daravon, Theara, Sedsody, Punlock, Saray, Veasna, Rotha, Rotha, Chanraksmy
Angkhor Tiger 4-2 EDC
Fukazawa 21, Debeiro 23 Khumpheak 45 Phearith 79 ///// Rotha 4, Chanraksmey 61
Oh dear! It was the same old story I’m afraid, we looked great going forward but were terrible at the back. If I do make it through to pre-season I will be investing in my goalkeeper and defence as a priority. We actually took the lead when Ratana played an accurate ball into the box for Rotha to swivel and fire home spectacularly. It wasn’t to last. An avalanche of Tiger attacks resulted in two quick goals from the veteran 43 year old Japanese winger, Fukazawa and their Nigerian forward, Debiro. We then went 3-1 down when an unfortunate rickashay fell kindly into the path of Khumpeak who fired home. After the break we rallied and Chamraksmy headed home after good work from substitute Choun Chum, who had replaced the injured Rotha. Just as we pressed for an equaliser, Phearith broke away and scored to make it 4-2. Not a bad effort from the lads, but to face facts we simply are not good enough.
An Unexpected Visitor
A few days after our defeat to Angkhor Tiger I was sat in my office plotting my tactics for the next game against Asia Euro United when I had a knock at the door. It was my secretary who told me that a woman had come to see me. She turned out to be the mother of Nhem Theara, our young 16 year old full-back. She entered my office and greeted me with a bow as is customary in this part of the world.
'Mr Rudd, my name is Nadia Theara, I am the mother of Nhem."
"Mrs Theara, nice to meet you, what would you like to see me about?"
"It is my son, you need to stop playing him in your football team Sir, I beg of you."
"Nhem is quite a good young prospect at the club, although perhaps not quite ready for the first team yet. I cannot blame him entirely for our recent defeats, although he has not performed well admittedly, but that's not really his fault."
"Mr Rudd, he comes home after the match and he cries, the papers have written some horrible things about him," holding a copy of the Phnom Penh Gazette.
"I'm sorry to hear this," was the only response I could muster.
"He is getting shouted at in the streets for his bad performances and also they think he should not be in the team!"
"The problem is this, Mrs Theara, Your son is the only proper right back at the club. Our other right back Sok Piseth is not registered to play in the C-League and so he can only play in the reserves." Nhem has been registered and so is the only right back eligible to play. This was a decision which was taken before I became the manager of EDC."
"Can't you just not play him for a while, it is having an effect on our family and on Nhem himself."
I have only one other player who can play right back and that is Ouk Ratana, but he has not played this position long I admitted. Look I can give Nhem a rest and we can see where we are at the end of the season, but if Ouk cannot play for some reason, like injury or suspension I may have to recall Nhem to the team."
"Ok thankyou Sir," she bowed and left.
I think we will have to find a long term solution to the right back problem sooner rather than later I thought as Nadia left the building.
I spoke with Nhem the following day after training and we both agreed that it was perhaps for the best if he played for the Reserves for a bit to take him out the spotlight and gain some form and confidence.
Ratana Called up to Cambodia U23s Squad
On a brighter note our promising defender, Ouk Ratana was called up to the Cambodian U23 squad where he played in a 3-1 win over Chinese Taipei. Not only is he seen as one for the future at his club, but also his country too. Hope this does not clash with a club game, as I may have Mrs Theara in my office again..
Match 11- EDC v Asia Euro United 17/10/20
The biggest game of the season so far. A win for us ensures survival, if Solitio Angkhor lose against The National Police we stay up regardless. A defeat for us and a win for Anghkor means it all goes down the final round of fixtures. Let’s not get to that stage. I will line up with a 4-4-2 with Chetra coming in for the out of sorts Saray who drops to the bench. Key defender Daravon is suspended so Nara drops into Central Defence alongside Makara, with Sedsody coming into midfield alongside Punlock. Thirdly Dara returns at Left back and Ratana switches to right back in place of the hapless Theara dropping to the bench. Let’s do this!
Team: Kong Rafat, Dara, Nara, Makara, Ratana, Sedsody, Punlock, Chetra, Veasna, Rotha, Chanraksmy
EDC 2-4 Asia Euro United
Rotha 36, Nara 54
//// Ajayi 30,86 Sokha 41,77
Firstly to the match which we made the same old mistakes, good going forward but weak at the back. For half an hour they battered us and took the lead when Nigerian forward, Ajayi received the ball innocuously on the left wing round about the halfway line, before sprinting with the ball past our static defence and slotting it past Kong Rafat. Amazingly we equalised when a long hopeful ball by Ratana was flicked on by Chanramsky into the path of the onrushing Rotha who blasted it into the top corner for his 13th goal of the season, Their second goal was akin to Miroslav Klose v England. From our corner, yes our corner, Veasna floated the ball straight into their keeper’s arms, before his long kick put Yan Sokha through on goal who did the rest. I went into attack mode for the second half, we had nothing to lose and were rewarded when Nara nodded in a far post corner for 2-2. We pressed for a winner to ensure survival on our terms, but they broke away and scored through Sokha, a rather scrappy affair and then Ajayi exposed an absent defence to seal the win. It didn’t matter though, Solitio Angkhor lost 2-1 to the National Police sending them down. We survive but radical changes are needed, especially in defence!
EDC Survive Relegation!
We’ve done it! EDC will be playing C-League football next season, but not because of our brilliance on the pitch, but because there were three worse teams than us. Kampong Cham, our final opponents were the whipping boys, while Bati Youth who weren’t much better and Solitio Angkhor, who I was quite impressed with in our 2-2 draw have all performed worse than us. We are not a good team and lots of work will be needed over the next few months to recruit new players and put together a squad capable of finishing higher in the C-League. We'll worry about that once the hangover has cleared because we are having a party in the middle of Phnom Penh to celebrate!
A Supportive Tweet from Charlotte Lay
‘Jonathan Rudd is an absolute hero can’t believe he kept us up! EDC are lucky to have him!’
Could be in there!
EDC have survived relegation and as pre-season begins can me and my scouts find the right players to improve to squad and build a team who can compete in the C-League! Find out next time on the Ultimate World Football Manager Game!