Samdech Hun Sen Cup holders Phnom Penh Crown and last year’s beaten finalists Naga Corp make light work of their quarterfinals opponents Saturday.
Phnom Penh Crown’s Heng Sok Ly (right) knocks the ball past Wat Phnom keeper Pao Raksa during their Samdech Hun Sen Cup quarterfinal Saturday at Olympic Stadium.
Saturday’s Samdech Hun Sen Cup quarterfinal doubleheader went to form with Phnom Penh Crown and Naga Corp waltzing through to the semifinals in emphatic style at Olympic Stadium.
In the opening tie, played in scorching hot conditions, Phnom Penh Crown started in upbeat fashion and, despite a momentary lapse, dominated the game from start to finish to emerge 5-1 victors. Wat Phnom had no answer to Crown’s quick passing, fleetness of foot and creativity, and were given a footballing lesson by the favourites.
On another day, Crown striker Heng Sok Ly would’ve netted a hatful. Instead, he missed four gilt-edged opportunities, and just when it didn’t look like being his day, he broke clear of the Wat Phnom defence for the umpteenth time to finally find the back of the net with a cool finish on 79 minutes. It was the least he deserved for his nonstop efforts and capped a fine performance from his new teammates.
Star of the show in the first half was Crown’s dominant centre-half Tieng Tiny. His initial goal was disallowed for offside in the first minutes of the match, but he stepped up to curl a delicious free kick from the edge of the box into the top corner on 14 minutes.
Naga Corp’s Sun Sovannarith (centre, white) scored a brace Saturday against Cup quarterfinal opponents Build Bright United.
Three minutes later however, and with their first foray forward, Wat Phnom made it level again. Crown’s usually competent goalkeeper Peng Bunchhay looked a bag of nerves throughout the game, and he spilled a routine catch from a corner at the feet of Ry Phearoeun, who gleefully rifled home the loose ball.
It was then Tieng Tiny’s turn once more to step up to the mark. This time it was from the penalty spot, on 34 minutes, after Chan Chhaya had fallen over theatrically when challenged by Wat Phnom’s stopper Pov Reaksa.
In between the goals, Crown conspired to spurn good opportunities, none more so than Heng Sok Ly, who twice broke away from his marker only to roll his final shot agonisingly wide of the target.
After the break, Crown piled on the agony for their luckless opponents. Hong Ratana dived full-length to head in a spectacular effort on 56 minutes after good approach work from Chea Virath.
With a quarter of an hour left, Virath’s long ball over the Wat Phnom defence was latched onto by Srey Veasna, who made no mistake from twelve yards out.
With Heng Sokly’s late reward, Crown recorded their well-deserved success to maintain their title defence.
Build Bright United 0 Naga Corp 6
With Naga and BBU giving as good as each other in an evenly contested first half, there was little to hint of the one-sided rampage that followed after the halftime interval.
Naga skipper Oum Thavarak had to show his mettle early with two timely clearances as BBU pressed forward, and he was easily the game’s best player in the opening half, both defensively and at set pieces.
Just one goal separated the teams leading into the break, and it came on 40 minutes through national U23 captain Sun Sovannarith, who has been pushed forward into a central striking role by his club this season. He was on hand to nod home a lobbed cross from Chan Chhaya, though BBU will feel aggrieved that their plucky efforts received such a late blow.
The second half was a very different story. In less than a minute of the restart, Sun Sovannarith somehow managed to get a toe to a loose ball and turned it into the path of Teab Vatanak, who found himself with an easy tap-in to extend Naga’s lead.
BBU had to replace their goalkeeper Sos Proshim with Kung Chanphanin on 68 minutes, and the replacement keeper will want to quickly forget the first minute of his introduction. He caught and then spooned a cross from Soeurn Monirath onto the foot of Sun Sovannarith, who slotted in his second goal of the game.
In the final 20 minutes of the game, Teab Vatanak showed he is back to full fitness and goal-poaching form after a serious knee injury interrupted his playing career during the last two years. He netted a simple second on 70 minutes, again after unselfish play from Sun Sovannarith had created the space.
Four minutes later, Teab Vatanak stole in unnoticed as Reung Bin Hieng tried to chest a ball back to his goalkeeper to touch in his hat trick. Then, with five minutes of play left, he converted a quick throw-in by Chan Chhaya, whilst the BBU defence were all at sea, to complete the 6-0 thumping and ensure Naga passage to the cup semifinals, where they’ll face a tantalising rematch of last year’s final against fierce rivals Crown next Saturday.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)