This weekend sees the resumption of the 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup at Olympic Stadium, with four quarterfinals spread out over Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a review of the matchups.
Prek Pra Keila v Preah Khan Reach
Saturday February 26 – 2pm
Prek Pra Keila make their debut at the quarterfinal stage, and coach Jack Tonye Charles recognized the stiff challenge posed by 2008 runners-up Preah Khan Reach. However, the Nigerian born tactician noted his players have improved considerably during the campaign.
Prek Pra midfielder Sen Soukey will once again be called upon to supply a steady stream of telling crosses for frontmen Matt Phalla, Matt Hasan and Feut Sulkiphly.
Sith Roset, manager of the staunchly supported Cham community club, said: “We are not afraid of any team. We have a lot of fans so we will try for them and I hope that our games will be fair with good judgment from referees.”
Military police backed Preah Khan Reach will be without suspended skipper Sam El Nasa and right winger Lay Rasmey, who injured his right ankle during international duty in Macau last week.
“However, we have youngsters to replace them,” assured Ok Samnang, the club’s general secretary. “The quality of our reserves is not so far from the first team, so we can beat Prek Pra.”
More goals are expected from hitman Khoun Laboravy, who is on course to collect the Golden Boot with a total of 16 goals in the competition so far.
Build Bright United v PP Crown
Saturday February 26 – 4pm
Build Bright United coach Meas Sam Oeurn doesn’t want to be reminded of their woeful record in the Cup against Phnom Penh Crown. BBU lost 4-1 to Crown in the third place play off in the inaugural tournament in 2007, before falling in the 2008 semifinal by the same scoreline. Crown also beat them in the 2009 quarterfinals.
BBU’s veteran striker Nuth Sinoun is still uncertain with a stomach ache. “But we have other talent players to take revenge on Crown especially former Crown striker Heng Sok Ly,” said Meas Sam Oeurn.
With Khim Borey, Keo Sokngorn and Srey Veasna traded to Thai clubs, two times Golden Boot winner Kouch Sokumpheak and Sok Pheng will aim to propel Crown into the semifinals for the fifth successive time. Experienced campaigner Chea Virath has been ruled out by injury, although it is likely that National Defence Ministry recruit Suong Virak will get the all-clear to make his first appearance in a Crown jersey.
Crown coach Bojan Hodak is quietly confident. “We’ll approach this like every other match,” he said.
“We take this competition very seriously and we will go out to win. BBU are one of the best teams in the Cup. They finished second in the league last season, so they must have good players, but I’m confident that if we play up to our level, that we can win.”
National Police Commissary v Naga Corp
Sunday February 27 – 2pm
Naga Corp coach Prak Sovannara admits his side cannot ignore the strengths of the Police team, who have gained promotion into this year’s Metfone C-League. that his side could not play by looking down the rival. “Police has improved so much since last time. They are good defensively,” he said.
The coach expected Naga midfielder Meas Channa will recover in time from an ankle injury. “Now I’m very impressed with the performance of Ek Vannak, former Khemara Keila striker,” added Sovannara.
“He did well in the previous matches and well in the training camps. He will be the key player on the field alongside Teab Vathanak.”
Police Commissary’s Sop Ravy is suffering from a knee strain but coach Ung Kanyanith hopes to use him as a substitute. “Strikers Sophal Udom and Long Nasy will try to score goals for the team while Say Piseth is our top man in defence,” said the coach.
Naga Corp remain the only team yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
National Defence Ministry v Kirivong Sok Sen Chey
Sunday February 27 – 2pm
Reigning champions National Defence Ministry (MND) are still missing right winger Touch Sok Heng while midfielder Ouk Thon is serving a suspension for two yellow cards from previous matches.
However, Phuong Soksana, Chhin Chhoeurn and Thong Udom will pressurise their rivals from Takeo.
“We are a young squad but we are the real team. In the field the players understand each other, so we will overcome Kirivong to defend our title,” said MND assistant coach Hor Sokheng.
Meanwhile, Kirivong assistant coach Phan Chanphath revealed his side were well acquainted with the tactics of their rivals. Striker In Vichheka, who is currently sharing the goalscoring lead with Khoun Laboravy, will not get the chance to add to his tally as he is suspended.
“Chhaing Sophal will play in Vichheka’s place. He will play alongside former Chhma Khmao star Meak Chhordaravuth,” said Chanphath.