17. Could we do a Leicester?
Picture Credit: Peter Woodentop wikipedia creative commons
EDC, after 9 league games are surprisingly top of the C-League on goal difference after an excellent start to the season. While this is an unexpected turn of events, as I only really had ambitions of a top half finish in the table and hopefully a good cup run, perhaps this team is better than I imagined. After my intervention with the unregistered players I do now feel at least I am playing against the best players in the respective teams and most of them have been well contested matches.
Match 12 – National Defence v EDC 29/05/21
We travel to the army team, The National Defence top of the league on goal difference, so I am confident of a good result and performance, against a team who sit in 11th. I’m going with a traditional 4-4-2 with Sok and Udom up front. Channerourn comes back at right back. New signing Rottanak starts on the bench.Team: 4-4-2: Channou, Chanroeun, Daravon, Khemarin, Ratana, Raksa, Sung Rot, Veasna, Fasal, K.Udom, Chanraksmey
National Defence 1-2 EDC
Yaty 72 /// Chanraksmey 34,36
We have acquired a more ruthless streak this season. While the team were not at their best today, in fact the Defence Ministry had the better of the chances, we just had 2, but that is all that was needed against our wasteful opponents. Sok was in fine form, the two wingers were a threat and we did enough to gain three more points away from home.
Against the run of play, Ratana and Fasal combined down the left, before the latter chipped into the box which was met by Chanraksmy’s head. The second goal came about from Ratana’s throw in, which found Keo Udom whose far post crossed found Veasna who laid it off beautfiully for Chanraksmy to fire home. Then from a free kick on 71 minutes, Yaty headed home a free kick to make it 2-1. We saw the game out from here manfully and not only are we ruthless, but also more difficult to beat. Maybe just maybe…
EDC sign Etim
A last minute signing has seen defensive midfielder, Raymond Etim join us from Svay Rieng. The Nigerian is also the first foreign signing to join our ranks and will provide good ball winning abilities and energy in defensive midfield, a kind of poor man's Ngolo Kante if you like. It also solves a problem position for us in defensive midfield after the departures of Punlock, Nara and the stupid Sedsody.
Match 13 – EDC v Nagaworld 05/06/21
We are top and fear nobody. Last season’s champions, Nagaworld are surprisingly languishing in 10th, so the roles are reversed from last season. They have a decent team with one of the best strikers in the C-League, George Kelechi leading the line and a lost Brazilian, Marques, plus the better end of the Cambodian players spectrum. For us, new signing, Etim makes his debut and Nara comes in for the suspended Daravon in central defence. I will keep to a 4-4-2 which has served us well recently. Let’s see what happens.
Team: Channou, Channroeurn, Daravon, Khemarin, Ratana, Etim, Sung Rot, Veasna, Fasal, K.Udom, Chanraksmey
EDC 1-3 Nagaworld
Rotha 92 /// Kelechi 21, Khemarin 45, Marques 77
Ouch that hurt. We were brought back down to earth by the reigning Champions, Nagaworld, who were simply too good on the day. Kelechi was a constant thorn in behind the defence, as they taught us a footballing lesson. A goal kick fell perfectly into his path, which I am sure was a match engine bug, (which I have named ‘Miroslav Klose’ after his goal against England in the World Cup 2010, which was straight from a goal kick) and he raced clear to slot past Um Channou. They hit the bar, before Khemarin dealt a killer blow on the stroke of half time for a 2-0 lead. For the first time this season I was angry with my defence and they were not too happy either. Attacking wise we looked OK with Veasna, Chanraksmey and K.Udom combining well. From the kick off in the second half Sung Rot sent Fasal racing down the right who squared to K.Udom who whacked it home, but strayed offside. Had that goal stood, things may have been different. We were better second half, but their quality was too much and Marques added a third near the end. Our consolation goal was quite good. From their corner the ball was cleared to substitute Ouch Udom, who sent Veasna racing down the right who crossed for sub Phanny Rotha to sweep home, but it was too little too late.
Match 14 Angkhor Tiger v EDC
A top of the table clash..Yikes, not sure about this one. Even though we are top of the table, these guys are a good side who we will have to watch. Blessed with Brazilians and some other decent players, this will be a tough fixture. Last time we played them they taught us a footballing lesson. We are bound to go on a bad run at some time and the Tigers are dangerous.
Team: 4-2-3-1: Channou, Ratana, Daravon, Khemarin, Sophahon, Raksa, Etim, Sung Rot, Veasna, Fasal, Chanraksmey
Angkor Tiger 1-2 EDC
Sergiopano 19 //// Chanraksmey 66 Udom 82
This was a classic game of two halves. For the first half an hour we did not have any attacks and there seemed to be no way back when from a long free kick, Sergiopano scored with a powerful header. We limped on to half time, with just a Veasna free kick shown hitting the wall and deflecting for a throw-in the only highlight. I was not happy at half time and challenged the players to perform better. Boy did they listen!
Young Ouch Udom, introduced for the often disappointing Sun Rot became a driving force in midfield. He galloped forward before piercing the Tigers Defence with a pinpoint through ball for Chanraksmey whose initial shot was saved but then fired home the rebound from a very tight angle. Daravon in the heart of the defence was a beast. He was first to everything, throwing himself in the way of shots and keeping the dangerous Debeiro at bay. Then from a goal kick, sub Keo Udom galloped forward beating his man before firing an unstoppable shot past the keeper to make it 2-1. Angkor pushed forward in the last ten minutes looking for an equaliser and Um Channou had to make a string of fine saves to preserve our lead. Brilliant second half performance and this result restores our three point lead at the top of the table.
Match 15- Hun Sen Cup 1st
Round – EDC v Senate
We are back in cup action, in the Prime Minister’s Cup 1st Round proper, where we take on 2nd Division outfit, Senate General Seretariat. I’ve rung the changes to give some of my squad players a chance. New young signing Rottanak is given a chance on the right wing, while promising striker Sam Chammeoun starts alongside forgotten man Phanny Rotha up front. I have Veasna and both the Udoms on the bench in case things go Pete Tong. Hopefully a nice easy win today.
Team: 4-2-4 Kong Rafat, Channroeurn, Sophina, Makara, Sophaon, O Udom, Etim, Rottanak, Saray, Rotha, S.Chanroeun
EDC 4-2 Senate Secretariat
S. Chanroeun 9,45 /// Makara 64, Sovan 78
This was far more comfortable than it looked and we played very well to go 4-0 up. It was the youngsters who stole the show, Etim’s instant ball sent Rotha down the right channel. He crossed for youngster Sam Chanroeun to head in his first ever goal for EDC! Makara’s ball into the box found Tum Saray whose low cross was cleverly touched on by Rotha into the path of another youngster, Math Rottanak on debut to smash home number 2. Udom released Rotha in the right channel whise low cross was cut out by the defender whose clearance only found Ouch Udom on the edge of the area and he fired in number 3 high into the roof of the net. Then, three minutes later our right back Rouen Chameroun made progress down the right, found Udom, whose low cross was fired home on the turn by Sam Chameroun. 4-0! A cross from the left saw Choy head home to make it 4-1 They scored again to at least set my mentality to balanced from attacking, but caused no more alarms. I was a bit annoyed with our sloppiness to let in two late goals, but in the end it did not matter. We are safely through to the Quarter Finals.
Match 16 – EDC v Phnom Penh
We are seriously punching above our weight this season and our position of being anywhere near the top of the table was unthinkable when I first took over the reigns at EDC in the middle of last season. How far we have come. Crown are one of the better sides in this league and have a good strike partnership of Booyens and Nigerian, Okereke with quality (for this league) throughout their team. We are still bang average in comparison on paper, but seem to be pulling off the impossible. Our luck must run out soon. I’m going with a 4-2-3-1, with Udom playing as a Carrilero, Chanraksmey up front alone and Chammeroun back at full back.
Team: Channou, Channroeurn, Daravon, Khemarin, Ratana, Etim, O.Udom, Sung Rot, Veasna, Fasal, Chanraksmey
EDC 4-1 Phnom Penh Crown
K Udom 47, 54, 93 Piseth 19
I’m not quite sure what to say! Simply electrifying stuff in the second half from EDC saw us shock local rivals Phnom Penh Crown. We shaded the first half but were still a goal down when against the run of play a hopeful ball caught Daravon underneath it. Piseth ran on to it and fired it powerfully past Um Channou. This is how it stayed at half time. I switched to a 4-4-2 and brought Keo Udom for his namesake Ouch. What a masterstroke this turned out to be.
On 47 minutes, Booyen inexplicably gave the ball away to Keo Udom who swapped passes with Fasal before placing the ball past the keeper onto the post. As the ball went agonisingly across the face of goal Udom was the first to the rebound to tap the ball home. 1-1
Then as our corner was cleared, Etim picked up the ball in midfield. He found Sung Rot, who played it into Udom in the area. His turn and shot beat the keeper, 2-1. EDC are on fire! Sung Rot picks up the ball in acres of space before slipping in Veasna who hits an unstoppable shot into the corner 3-1!!
High voltage football from EDC! From deep in his own half Veasna flights a gorgeous ball to Keo Udom who instantly controlled it, before cheekily lobbing the onrushing keeper to complete a marvellous hat-trick. Electrifying stuff!
I can’t get over how good this team has become and we are still classed as ‘minnows’ in this league yet find ourselves a whopping 5 points clear at the top of the C-League after 13 games. We are doing this against all the odds. Not much money to spend, no scouting outside Cambodia’s borders, no foreign talent wishing to join (except Etim) from Cambodian clubs and no reputation. The EDC fans were chanting at the end of the game:
Were doing a ‘Leicester’
The Table Doesn’t Lie
I’m starting to feel dizzy now. At the exact halfway point in the season we are 5 points clear at the top of the C-League.
EDC are 5 points clear in the C-League. Is this the start of a seamless road to glory, or will the chasing pack pour water over our rag-tag bunch of part-timers from The Cambodian National Grid? Find out next time on The Ultimate World Football Manager Game!
Read the next part 18. High Voltage Football here