The meek have surrendered and the mighty move on in quest of the prestigious Samdech Hun Sen Cup.
The top billing in the four quarterfinal match-ups down for decision today goes to a high profile contest between the Cup holders Preah Khan Reach and reigning Metfone C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown – a repeat of their enthralling clash in the 2008 Cup showdown.
Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Preah Khan Reach’s Soun Thoun (left) and Phnom Penh Crown’s Kouch Sokumpheak vie for the ball during last year’s Metfone C-League match. The teams will face each other in today’s quartefinal of the 2012 Samdech Hun Sen Cup at Old Stadium.
The final before the final, as it has been justifiably branded by an excited football community, between PKR and Crown at the Army Stadium will sadly send one of the heavyweights packing so early in the competition.
Both sides would have preferred to be the last one standing, but reality has now dawned on them that it is a make or break quarterfinal that would perhaps define their own strength of character in reaching out to the Cup they so desperately want.
Crown has an almost impeccable record in domestic football and PKR has been among the highest ranking teams in the country.
Both are teams with abundant skills and firepower though their style and approach are somewhat different. It is this contrast which should bring the best out of them.
It has been a tough task for coach David Booth in reshaping Crown after the team was shaken to its core by a set of unsavoury suspensions following that AFC Challenge Cup fiasco in Taiwan last September.
This is the first real test for the remodeled side despite some of the breezy wins that came along against provincial sides in the group phase. Kuoch Sokumpheak continues to be an inspiration upfront with 11 goals to his credit, 10 of them in the group opener.
The side would be looking for early breaks from him.
The military police-backed PKR, meanwhile, has blooded some youngsters with measured success early in the season and the team has a sound, balanced look.
Khuon Laboravy, whose crafty left foot and great opportunism in the box are two telling points in his favour, continues to dazzle.
He has 17 goals to his credit so far and is five clear from Naga Corp’s Teab Vathanak in the race for the Golden Boot, which Laboravy won last year.
The PKR team management has made it clear to its backline that the key to success against a versatile team like Crown is sturdy defence, which ought to close down and keep the midfield mobile rather than fall back and desperately defend.
Following this cracker between Crown and PKR comes a needle match between National Police Commissary and Build Bright United.
The Police, who unexpectedly topped their group on goal difference pushing Crown to second spot with a 22-goal demolition of Kratie on Monday, take the pitch with the confidence that they had beaten BBU 2-1 when the last met in the 2011 league.
Form has been topsy-turvy for University team BBU, whose best Cup run came early in 2011 when they went down fighting to PKR in the final.
Away at the Olympic Stadium, two-time finalists Naga Corp take on Kirivong Sok Sen Chey. In the most recent meeting between the two sides, Naga stayed strong enough to complete a 2-1 victory in the second round of the league on their way to a second place finish behind Crown.
This is one piece of valuable silverware coach Prak Sovannara badly desires, having been beaten into third place in the last edition.
For 2010 Cup winners National Defence Ministry, the two intervening years have brought nothing much of note except managing to fill the frame in fourth spot in both the league and the Cup. In their current bid, the Army team will be up against Chhlam Samuth, with the comforting feeling of having caged the Sea Sharks 5-1 when they last met.
Playing at Olympic Stadium
- Naga Corp v Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 2pm
- National Defence Ministry v Chhlam Samuth – 4:45pm
Playing at Old Stadium
- Preah Khan Reach v Phnom Penh Crown – 1:45pm
- National Police Commissary v Build Bright United – 4pm