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Cambodia's five-star warm up

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Kien Giang goalkeeper Nguyen Van Phong watches the ball find the back of the net off the boot of Cambodia’s Phoung Soksana (left) during their friendly yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Kien Giang goalkeeper Nguyen Van Phong watches the ball find the back of the net off the boot of Cambodia’s Phoung Soksana (left) during their friendly yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Cambodia turned yesterday’s friendly against visiting Vietnamese first division side Kien Giang into a serious target practice session, pilfering a 5-1 victory at Olympic Stadium.

Designed as a warm up game ahead of next Wednesday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Laos, Cambodia national coach Lee Tae Hoon got what he set out for in terms of working out different combinations and putting his players through a crucial pressure test.

The home side came through untroubled in the end with Tum Saray scoring the first two and Chhin Chhouen, Phoung Soksana and Sam El Nasa stretching the tally to five. For the visitors, Nguyen Hai Anh got the consolation goal.

Lee expressed after the match that on sheer figures he was quite happy with the way the side performed, but when it came to the nitty gritty of playing tough and secure football there were several visible chinks.

“Against a side like Laos, we will have to play with lot more cohesion, skill and purpose,” he said.

Kien Giang shook their hosts with two sturdy attempts in the first ten minutes. Striker Nguyen Thanh Son missed the mark with a header right in front of the goal, and minutes later his fierce drive was fisted away by keeper Ouk Mich.

After surviving these two close calls, however, it was Cambodia rest of the way. Tum Saray and his Preah Khan Reach teammate Khuon Laboravy combined well to get the national side off the mark on 16 minutes.

Moments later, Chhin Chhoeun’s perfect cross set up goal number two for Tum Saray. Nguyen Hai Anh gave his team a glimmer of hope with a 37th minute strike before Chhin Chhoeun set out on a solo run to reinstate the two-goal cushion before the half-time whistle.

In the final stages of the game, an opportunistic shot by Phoung Soksana was quickly followed by a Sam El Nasa swoop on a Prak Mony Oudom cross.

Coach Lee pitched in a virtual second string for the first half and changed the complete line up after the break, with experienced Ouk Mich under the bar making way for young Um Vichet, who caught the eye with some sturdy interceptions and confident collections.

Infact, with the exception of Lay Raksmey, Mat Hassan and Chhun Sothearath, the rest of the 22 players got good playing time on either side of the half.

The Football Federation of Cambodia threw the gates open for this fixture and expectedly there was a huge local turnout to cheer on their national team.

With the World Cup qualifier round the corner, Cambodia will get down to serious preparations for their home leg at Olympic Stadium next Wednesday and the July 3 away leg at the National Stadium in Vientiane.

Crown clash with Police
Domestic football fans have just one game to enjoy this weekend as reigning Metfone C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown will look to reclaim the top spot with a win against National Police Commissary in the concluding match of the first half of the season at 3pm tomorrow at Old Stadium.

Crown defender San Narith is suspended after his dismissal in last Monday’s tempestuous 4-0 defeat to rivals Naga Corp at the same ground, which put an end to the unbeaten start of their title defence.

Striker Chan Chhaya will be key in leading Crown back to the top, while winger Suong Virak will be another pressure point. Japanese midfield recruit Takahito Ota will make his second league appearance and should display a better understanding with his teammates.

The Police are looking to wrestle fourth placed from Preah Khan Reach, who remain just a point ahead of them. Besides Tith Dina, who netted twice in his side’s 3-2 victory over Kirivong, forward Long Nasy is always dangerous while super sub Moeung Phanith will be another man to watch.

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