The clash between two former champions and casino-backed clubs Phnom Penh Crown and NagaCorp in a key Metfone C-League encounter today at Olympic Stadium has a peculiar air about it.
Crown are bouncing around with immense confidence on the back of two solid displays, while Naga are struggling to find the kind of form that won them the 2013 Hun Sen Cup not so long ago.
When the game kicks off at 2pm, Crown will obviously be in a stronger mental state, having treated with some disdain Svay Rieng in their previous outing. Naga, on the other hand, are in recovery mode after Build Bright United snatched a victory from the throes of a seemingly certain draw.
Crown’s prolific Dutch striker Elroy van der Hooft wasn’t around for the sides’ previous league meeting on February 24 which ended 1-1, but is rapidly ticking off goals in a manner that should make rival backlines creak.
Meanwhile, the absence of a goal-scoring spearhead has been hurting Naga almost throughout the entire league season.
For the two-time winners, goals have been coming in odd drops and, against a side as buoyant as Crown are at the moment, scoring will be of paramount importance.
If lack of goals is one major worry for Naga, the other is the side caving in quite often under pressure, just like they did against Build Bright United.
Given the current trends, Crown should go out as the market fancies, a clear four points ahead of their rivals in the standings.
Unless Naga find a way to lift themselves, their chances of making it to the Super Four play-offs could be in danger since Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and Build Bright United are closing in on their fourth placing.
Having shaken off relegation worries, Ministry of National Defence may find Senate Secretariat easy meat in today’s second fixture at 4pm.
Victory for the Army team will guarantee top tier survival, condemning the impressive league debutants Asia Europe University to a relegation play-off against one of the top two Division A1 sides at the end of the season.
Senate are already confirmed to feature in the other play-off.