23. End of Season 2 Round Up
A couple of days after our stunning but ultimately futile 7-2 victory over Phnom Penh Crown I arrived at the training ground to tie up some loose ends with the players for the season, following a light session to keep them going and a fun kick around.
As I pulled into the car park at Prey Veng I looked over to the training field and noticed a bunch of kids having a game of football. I did not recognise them as my Under 21 squad, or my reserves. There seemed to also be a coach with them, who was joining in the game.
Puzzled I parked up and approached them.
"Who are these kids, they can't just come in here and start playing football, we have a first team training session today!"
The game stopped and the adult walked over and smiled, clutching a football.
"Morning boss, lovely day!" he smiled.
"And who on earth are you?" I enquired.
"Mr Rudd, my name is Chan Vannak. I'm your Head of Youth Development."
By this time the kids were sitting on the grass catching their breath and others were milling around.
"Who are these kids?" Where did they come from?"
"Boss, you know what day it is today?"
"1st November 2021."
" Yes, but it's also Youth Intake Day. These are your new recruits!"
"I sighed. Flippin' 'eck, I was expecting this in March, not November. You heads of Youth Development, your like flippin' Father Christmas, only come out one day of the year. What do you do for the other 364 days?
"I go round Cambodia recruiting kids to our footballing academy."
"We have an academy?"
"Well they are in that mysterious team which are below the Under 21 teams and then magically appear one day a year in Youth Intake day, which is today!" he said rather too cheerfully.
"I have a bumper crop of talent for you to have a look at."
I gazed at this rag tag bunch of 15/16 year olds milling around trying to imagine them as future Sok Chanraksmeys and Suon Veasnas..
"Well we'd best see what they can do then."
After watching them play I ended up giving the below players a contract and a place in our U21 team:
Ayoub Joly 15 (D/WBL)
Taing Hai 15 (STC)
Ouk Ratha 15 (MC/AMC)
Sok Makara 15 (DC)
Morgan Laurent 16 (AMC)
Um Samnang 16 (ST)
Sary Chainuth 16 (ST)
Suon Makara Retires
My dependable defender/midfielder, Suon Makara will retire next month, The 32 year old has decided to call it a day. In my opinion I still think he could do a job. Thankyou for your efforts Suon, you were a real pro on the training field and a player who made the most of your limitations as a footballer.
End of Season 2 Stats
EDC have received £13.7K for finishing 3rd in the C-League
Finishing 3rd is a new highest position for EDC since their formation in 2015.
Filip Mihailjevic 25 (Vishaka)
Sok Chanraksmey 21 (EDC)
Keo Udom 20 (EDC)
Boeung Ket 62
The Board's Assessment on New Arrivals To The Team..
So bit of strange one this. In a run down of the new signings made this season by C-League clubs Keo Udom came out on top. He has scored 26 goals in 30 appearances and has been outstanding. Not so according to my board they do not think he represents ‘value for money,’ when I only paid £375 for him and they have given me an ‘F’ grade for his signing? What the hell?
“EDC were one of the competition’s surprise packages, consistently defying expectations and, owing largely to an impressive spell between September and October that saw them rise to 3rd were able to celebrate a successful campaign.
Were they watching my team in September/October? That is exactly when things went Kevin Keegan and we slipped from the top of the table to 3rd!
Our success has helped the club’s finances and received £42,000 in prize money. The highest selling shirts were for Chanraksmey, Veasna, Saray, Udom and Daravon.
Fans Player of The Season: Keo Udom
Young Player of The Year: Sung Rot
Signing of The Season: Keo Udom
Goal Of The Season: Sok Chanraksmey
Top Goalscorer: Keo Udom 26
Most Assists: Suon Veasna 18
End of Season Thoughts
Going into the 2021 campaign I wanted to finish in the top half of the table and have a good run in the Prime Minister’s Cup. We achieved both of these things, but it could have been even better. The question is, Is the glass half full, or half empty? Yes 8 points clear and we messed it up, we bottled the cup final and it looks increasingly like our best players will leave the club at the end of their contracts on 30th November 2021. This may not sound good on paper, but on the positive side I achieved the aims of the season and a little bit more. There is now not one football fan, even in the remotest parts of Cambodia, who do not know EDC, Chanraksmey, Veasna, Udom and everyone else at the club. I think we can build on this season and be even better in the next campaign, but as it stands it means I may have to completely rebuild the squad and promote some youth in order to compete well again next season.
Will I be able to keep hold of my star players for the 2022 campaign, or will the lure of a professional contact tempt them away from Prey Veng? Find out next time on The Ultimate World Football Manager Game!
Read the next part "The Gang of Six" here