Phnom Penh Crown dreaming of Home United upset
Phnom Penh Crown believe they can beat Home United and qualify for AFC Cup main draw
|HOME UNITED||PHNOM PENH CROWN|
- Home lead 4-3 from first leg
The odds are heavily stacked against them.
But Cambodia outfit Phnom Penh Crown are dreaming of scoring an upset over fancied S.League side Home United tonight to book their place in the AFC Cup for the first time.
The two sides clash in the second leg of their AFC Cup qualifying play-off match at the Jalan Besar Stadium with Home in the driver's seat, having edged out a seven-goal thriller in the first leg played in Phnom Penh over a week ago.
To win the tie and progress to the competition proper at the expense of the Protectors, Crown have to triumph tonight by two clear goals, or win by the odd goal in another high-scoring match (5-4, 6-5, and so on).
Their coach Sam Schweingruber believes they can achieve the improbable.
"We know we have a mountain to climb, but we also have great hope that with the right attitude and right mentality, we have a chance," said the Swiss-Cambodian at the pre-match press conference at Hotel Royal yesterday.
"We'll do all we can to pull off a miracle and get the result we need."
The 39-year-old coach and his skipper, South African forward Shane Booysen, pointed to the fact the minnows managed to put three goals past Home United and Singapore No. 1 Hassan Sunny in the first leg, as a confidence booster.
"We expected Home to be stronger than they were, so we are hopeful now," said Schweingruber.
"In fact, in the first 25 or 30 minutes of the first leg, I felt we were the better team. If we can replicate parts of the performance, we have a good chance."
Booysen, who scored a beautiful free-kick in stoppage time of the first leg to give his side a fighting chance in the second, echoed those sentiments.
"In the last game, we came out of the game the better team, but we let ourselves down by conceding three goals," said the former Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns striker.
"Heading into the second leg, we need to minimise mistakes and, if we do that, we'll stand a good chance.
"We have a lot of respect for Home and their players but, at the end of the day, the better team need to win and go through.
"We came here to fight and get the result we want, and it's a good opportunity not only for us as a club, but also for Cambodian football."
Home, however, are determined to qualify for the AFC Cup group stage for the first time since 2014.
Coach Aidil Sharin said: "For me, it's only half-time."
"We still have a second half and I regard the score as being 0-0. We are not going to sit back and defend the lead.
"We'll play our normal game and try to play good football, since we're the home team."
Protectors forward Stipe Plazibat added that there was more to come from him and his teammates.
"Of course it's nice when you score four goals away from home but, at the same time, we conceded three," said the Croat, who scored once last week.
"We can't talk about confidence of just the attackers or defenders, we must look at our whole team.
"We are aware of the situation and we know we need to come back stronger and show what we can really do."