Phnom Penh Crown edge out Naga Corp 1-0 Wednesday in what turns out a relatively tame outing for the bitter rivals
THE so-called clash of the Titans at Olympic Stadium turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, especially when the rain joined the party to bring down the curtain on a slender 1-0 victory for Phnom Penh Crown over Naga Corp Wednesday that takes the victors to within one point of CPL leaders Preah Khan Reach. It wasn't the classic everyone was hoping for, and there was a lot of huff and puff, but precious little goalmouth action in the first half in particular.
With Crown missing their top scorer Tunji Ayoyinka who is trying his luck in Turkey, and Naga without their suspended defensive linchpin and hard-man skipper Oum Thavarak, the anticipated matchup between the two never materialised.
Instead it was left to former Naga striker Ousmanou Mohamadou to win the day for his new paymasters Crown, with a goal three minutes after the halftime interval. He was Johnny-on-the-Spot after Tieng Tiny's gallop took him into the Naga penalty area, with Mohamadou happy to receive his short pass and lift it over Naga goalkeeper Oum Chandara before wheeling away in celebration.
Naga fail to convert chances
Up until the halftime break, Naga had shaded the possession but never seriously tested Crown's stopper Peng Bunchhay. Their best chance came in the 10th minute, when Meas Channa's corner found Yemi Oyewole all alone in the six-yard box, but his downward header bounced well over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
With no-nonsense referee Sreng Hao Dy waving away far too much play-acting for his liking, the game flowed much better after the break.
Crown nearly snatched a second goal on the hour mark when substitute Keo Sokngorn rounded the keeper, but took himself too wide, and his follow-up shot struck the foot of the post.
Naga, the league's top scorers, continued to press for the equaliser, but when they lost limping striker Sunday Patrick Okonkwo 20 minutes from time, they were effectively out of the running. Their skipper Kim Chanbunrith saw his curling free kick punched away by Peng Bunchhay, but the failure of Tith Mesa to connect with a free header from 5 yards out with their final chance of the match, sealed their defeat. At the final whistle, the Crown bench jumped for joy, and their drum and horn-blowing supporters in the main stand made sure everyone was aware that they are firmly back in the hunt to retain their CPL title.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)