Cambodian league title holders Naga Corp bounce back from their earlier defeat to conquor Renown Sports Club from Sri Lanka 4-2 in their AFC President’s Cup group match Wednesday
Naga Corp’s Teab Vathanak turned into a goal machine once again Wednesday with a first half hat trick against Sri Lanka’s Renown Sports Club (RSC) in their AFC President’s Cup group match at the Youth Training Center in Yangon. RSC made a spirited fightback in the second to pull within a goal before Chhim Sambo netted in the penultimate minute to seal a 4-2 victory for the Cambodian champions, and keep their hopes of qualification for the final round still alive.
Just eight minutes into the game, Naga striker Teab Vathanak opened the scoring with a neat header from a Meas Channa corner. Head coach Prak Sovannara sensed weakness and urged his players to push forward.
Five minutes later, Chin Chum found Vathanak in space in the penalty area to direct a header goalwards. RSC keeper Mohamed Hajimal’s attempted punch away cannoned off the leg of Vathanak, and the ball rolled in to double Naga’s advantage.
In the 21st minute, referee Ali Shaban from Kuwait denied a penalty appeal by Naga after Mohamed Zain appeared to handle ball in the box. However, Naga continued to dominate possession with Nigerian forward Joseph Oyewole presented with a clear chance on goal but hoofing a strike on his weaker foot over the bar.
Just before the half hour mark, another expertly struck corner kick from Meas Channa was met by the head of Teab Vathanak, who powered it into the back of the net to complete his hat trick and give Naga a commanding lead.
Moments later, Naga’s Chin Chum failed to grab his team’s fourth when the RSC back line were caught out of position. Sri Lankan defender Nawarathna picked up a yellow card for his raking challenge on Joseph Oyewole before Naga skipper Sun Sovannrith was also on the receiving end of a hard challenge from RSC midfielder Raheem Gafoor.
Five minutes before the break, Chin Chum limped off with a problem with right leg and was replaced by Chhim Sambo, while Joseph Oyewole squandered another opportunity to extend their lead.
RSC down but not out
In the second half, the Sri Lankans employed a change in tactics as they started to come back in the game. In the 49th minute, defender Neang Chenla put in a clumsy challenge in the area to afford a penalty, but Naga keeper Mak Theara saved his teammate’s blushes with a smart parry from RSC captain Fazlur Rahman’s spotkick.
The introduction of RSC midfielder Mohamed Nafeer inspired some momentum, and with 72 minutes on the clock, substitute Mohamed Anam pegged one back after being put through from a Nafeer free kick.
Pich Sina, who had been brought on for Meas Channa, lasted just 13 minutes on the pitch before he was shown a straight red for a tackle on Nafeer. Down to ten men, Naga shuffled round to strengthen their defence. However, defenders Teat Chandara Sokha and Neang Chenla were caught flat footed to see RSC forward Sanjeev Shanmugarajah steal into the box and slot home their second.
The Sri Lankans were unlucky not to find the equaliser after some persistent spurts up the field, but as they pushed higher, Naga’s Chhim Sambo was left all alone from a Teab Vathanak through ball. The diminutive midfielder bared down on goal and knocked an exquisite lob over the advancing keeper to reclaim their two-goal cushion. It proved the last action of the day, as Naga on for a deserved 4-2 victory.
Coach slams dismissal
Head coach Prak Sovannara was delighted by his side’s first half performance, but was left fuming at man the middle. “In the whole match, the referee did not do good job,” remarked the coach after the match. “I’m very disappointed. Pich Sina’s red card was a wrong decision, he did not make big mistake, [it] should be a yellow.”
With the defeat Wednesday and their 6-0 thumping by Tajikistan club FC Vakhsh, RSC have no chance of advancing from the group stage. However, Naga will have a shot at making the finals in their game this afternoon against Vaskhsk. A win guarantees their place in the next round as will a loss for Khan Reasearch Laboratories (KRL).
FC Vaskhsk beat KRL 1-0 in the other group B game Wednesday.