Build Bright United’s In Virak (left) battles with Naga Corp’s Chhim Sambo during their Metfone C-League game on Saturday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Frayed tempers, verbal assaults, reckless challenges and two dismissals marked an action-packed 2-2 draw between former league champions Naga Corp and 2011 Hun Sen Cup finalists Build Bright United in a Metfone C-League contest at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Before the teams had time to settle down on the newly mowed grass, Naga were gifted with a BBU own goal off their very first attack with Rim Bunhieng’s poor attempt at a clearance spinning into his own net. Naga then doubled their lead through Kop Isa’s spectacular 19th minute strike.
Two down and the defence clearly in disarray, BBU knuckled down to repair the damage only to find Nuth Sinoun slam a sitter over the bar and Oum Chandara narrowly miss a relatively easy chance.
However, a flash of Nuth Sinoun’s old brilliance resurfaced just after the half-hour mark when he craftily chested down and side-footed the ball past Naga keeper Mak Theara. Approaching the interval, it was evident that players on both sides were getting over indulgent in tackles. A few angry exchanges ensued, with things coming to a head in stoppage when Nuth Sinoun and Naga’s Chea Virath squared off for afters in response to a late tackle. More bodies piled in, threatening to escalate the dispute.
To his credit, the referee handled the situation quickly and efficiently, sending off the two players involved in the initial fracas.
However, Oum Chandara chose to continue fighting Nuth Sinoun’s cause with the referee, vehemently arguing that the red card should be rescinded. Time ticked away and the referee put an end to the remonstrations by blowing for half time.
Within minutes after resuming from a stormy break, the controversial Oum Chandara struck the BBU leveller with a scorching 25-yard drive.
There are clear lessons to be learnt for the Football Federation of Cambodia as to how best to deal with player dissent, with both Naga and BBU coaches agreeing that players had to obey referee’s decisions no matter how contentious.
Naga tactician Prak Sovanara said he felt that going strictly by the action on the field, a draw was just about a fair verdict.
“I had this doubt whether the players will be sharp enough after the Khmer New Year break. Luckily all went well for us,” he added. BBU coach Meas Sam Oeurn, meanwhile, insisted his side had frittered away
a good chance to take all three points.