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First-time finalists clash in Hun Sen Cup title decider

Police coach Ung Kanyanith (left) comes up against his former boss Lah Salakhan of BBU in the Hun Sen Cup final
Police coach Ung Kanyanith (left) comes up against his former boss Lah Salakhan of BBU in the Hun Sen Cup final tomorrow. Sreng Meng Srun

First-time finalists clash in Hun Sen Cup title decider

If someone had predicted at the start of the year that tomorrow’s Samdech Hun Sen Cup final showdown would be between National Police Commissary and Build Bright United, form pundits would have dismissed it as reckless speculation.

But the reality hitting home hard is that there has never been a Cup season with so many bizarre twists and turns and that these two long shots indeed will be adding a glorious chapter to the history books of Cambodian football as first time finalists or winners.

No matter what the outcome will be it is a big moment for both clubs and their first real shot at a grand prize. So that sense of grandeur and excitement is not lost on either camp.

Neither want this glorious opportunity to pick up a piece of coveted silverware for their club showcase slip out of their grasp.

The road to the final hadn’t been easy for both teams. Police had to deal with a rugged Ministry of National Defence in the quarter-finals before bringing down holders Naga Corp last weekend.

BBU were beaten 5-0 by Phnom Penh Crown not so long ago in the league, but turned that humiliation around with a 1-0 quarter-final victory over the same side. Then they had to overcome 2012 League champs Boeung Ket in the semis, no mean task either.

With the benefit of hindsight, Police and BBU are entitled to feel that making the final would have been the easier part, but winning it tomorrow might be the hardest imaginable.

The big occasion doesn’t seem to shake Police coach Ung Kanyanith’s confidence in his unit one tiny bit.

“After the huge victory over Naga, we all got together to discuss the final. Although we were so happy in making history at our club, we are not getting too excited about what we have done,” the coach told the Post.

“It was no miracle that Police beat Naga. It was all down to our own blood and sweat.”

Ung Kanyanith admitted they would need to contend with the “strong defence” of their opponents.

“We will strengthen our attack to break through their backline. There is nothing of concern to us about BBU’s strike force. Our defence is good enough to handle them.”

Interestingly enough, Ung Kanyanith, a former BBU player himself, was coached by Lah Salakhan, who is still in charge of the University-backed side. The Police coach had nothing but respect and admiration for the BBU veteran but at the same time he is keen to match wits from the dugout with his past master.

“Lah Salakhan is a good leader. I learned a lot from him. And now it’s time I showed him how well I have retained knowledge he had imparted in me. I believe my team will win the game [on Saturday], because I know well about Lah Salakhan’s tactics and how he is likely to set up his team.”

The Police coach also added that his team has no fitness worries among his players before the big game.

While the Post could not reach Lah Salakhan for his perspective, BBU assistant coach Chan Veasna chose to play his cards close to the chest. “I prefer not to reveal our tactics and keep them secret, but I know we are well prepared for the final. Currently we don’t have any concerns about player injuries. They will be all eager to fight together for victory,” Chan Veasna said.

“I want to declare that we will win the Cup – I’m really confident we can do it.”

With so many fancied teams and crowd-pullers biting the dust this season, the stage is set for a change of Cup guard tomorrow and a new name in the scroll of honour.

The match kicks off at the Olympic Stadium from 5:30pm tomorrow.


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