After NagaCorp’s surprising second round loss against Chamkamorn two weeks ago, many saw national team coach Sovannarah’s former team as outsiders against the unbeaten Ministry of National Defence in their Hun Sen Cup match at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
NagaCorp needed a win against MND with at least a two-goal difference in order to advance out of Group A.
Naga, a three-time tournament runners-up, started the game off furiously and had a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half-hour of the game. Teab Vathanak pressured MND’s right side of defence with great passes and crosses.
The 38th minute saw one of MND’s few attacks, and NagaCorp keeper Phon Rathana, who hadn’t been in the game up to that point, seemed surprised that he had to defend a ball, which he punched straight to his opponent Phonng Soksana for an easy 1-0 lead.
But Naga stayed the more active team on the field, and it came with little surprise that Teab Vathanak converted a shot off a corner from 10 metres with no chance for national team goalkeeper Son Yaty. From that point the game evolved to an exchange of blows with many opportunities on both sides.
With players’ minds already on the half-time break, Naga saw how a lack of concentration at a corner kick can mean the difference between a draw and trailing a goal, as Pov Pearith converted a corner by a teammate for a 2-1 lead, practically on the half-time whistle.
The interval speech of coach Lim Nonn must have had an impact, because Naga came out ready to fire. And so they did, a leveller by Chonn Chum and a third by Kob Isa turned the game around within four minutes.
The whole team looked determined to extend the lead and make it to the next round, and a foul by MND’s Son Yaty on Chonn Chum in the area helped their cause. Chonn converted the spot kick in to the in the 64th minute for the winning goal and a 4-2 victory. Knowing that, with that scoreline, Chamkamorn, in their final game against Kratie, could not progress, Naga defended the score until the end.
Despite knowing this, Chamkamorn played their hearts out, winning 10-2.
Ministry of National Defence will advance to the quarter-finals as group winners, followed by NagaCorp. The tournament is unfortunately over for Chamkamorn and Kratie.
Over at Old Stadium, a second-half goal by Blong Chanthou turned out to be Build Bright United’s match winner against the National Police.
After both sides created and missed numerous chances in the first half. Chanthou twigged a nice opening to smash home the sole goal of the match. The Police lost the services of Nov Sosela when he was given marching orders for dissent.
In the day’s second fixture, Western University defeated Kampot 3-2.
Build Bright and National Police progress to the next stage.