Crown’s Hong Pheng (R) and MND’s Neth Veasna contest a header in their Hun Sen Cup semi-final on February 8. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Four-time champions Phnom Penh Crown, determined this season to recapture their 2011 glory, will be eager to settle a month-old score when they face off against Ministry of National Defence in their Metfone C-League tie at Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
Beaten in an agonising penalty shootout to be deprived of a place in the Hun Sen Cup final by none other than MND, Crown get their chance to avenge that loss in the league.
No two performances are alike, at least so far this season, when it comes to the Army team and this blow hot-blow cold kind of form should be a matter of concern for sides lining up against them.
A team like MND could put their best foot forward any time and it is all about how well their men work as a unit on the day rather than depending on individual brilliance. The side had a relatively tough time coping with defending champions Boeung Ket Rubber Field last week and Crown may give them the same problems.
Striker Khim Borey’s splendid show on Wednesday in Cambodia’s international friendly against the Malaysian U23 squad could possibly rub off on his club-mates.
Coach Sam Schweingruber’s side has enough stock of experience and much could depend on how well African import Oldaji Olatunde spearheads the Crown strikeforce, which ranks among some of the best in the business.
Hong Pheng is capable of springing a surprise or two up front as evidenced by a few of his eye catching runs in that fighting 1-1 draw against Naga the other week. Kouch Sokumpheak working his way back to his personal best will most certainly be to the side’s advantage.
Crown take the pitch on the back of a sound thrashing of Senate Secretariat, though they may not expect MND to be as complyingly soft as the newcomers.
Brimming with confidence after that win against Naga, Preah Khan Reach may not feel Senate much of a workload later on Sunday. Khuon Laboravy’s recall to the national team reckoning and his delightful header against Malaysia are two good reasons for PKR to celebrate his form.
The National Police Commissary are nicely working up the pace but Kirivong Sok Sen Chey may prove a road bump when the two sides clash at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
There is a mood of levity in the Kirivong tent after that bloodless victory against Build Bright United last week, and if the visitors from Takeo stretch that buoyancy to this game, the Police could well be dealing with a strong picket line.
The second fixture on Saturday pits Boeung Ket against a somewhat disjointed BBU. Only a reckless speculator would fling a bet on the University-backed side upsetting the Boeung Ket applecart. With four wins already on the trot, and a fifth very much on the cards for the title holders, it would be no surprise if Bisan George were to get his goal tally of nine now ticking past double figures.
The only fixture at the Old Stadium on Saturday gives Naga Corp an opportunity to assert themselves against a decidedly soft target in Asia Europe University. But complacency could be Naga’s greatest enemy, for the University lads have shown more than once in the past few months that they are not the type to be taken lightly.