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Naga play in AFC President's Cup

Naga Corp are flying the Cambodian flag in this year’s regional tournament held in Myanmar

Yangon

Reigning Cambodian Premier League champions Naga Corp arrived in Yangon, Myanmar Saturday ahead of their week-long participation in preliminary rounds of the 2010 AFC President’s Cup. They have been pitted against Pakistan club Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Renown Sports Club of Sri Lanka and Tajikistan’s FC Vakhsh in group B. Meanwhile, host nation hopefuls Yadanbon face Druk Star FC of Bhutan and Turkmenistan champions HTTU Asgabat in Group C. Over in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, group A fixtures see host side Abahani Limited meet Kyrgyzstan powerhouse Dordoi-Dynamo, New Road Team from Nepal and Hasus NTCPE of Chinese Taipei.

The top clubs from each of the three groups and the best runner-up will advance to the Finals, scheduled to take place in September.

This will be the second time Naga have participated in the regional tournament, having been knocked out of the group stage in 2008. Naga will play their first match against KRL at 3:30pm today at Yangon’s Aung San Stadium, before facing off two days later against Renown Sports Club at the Youth Training Center. The Cambodian title holders finish off their tour on Friday with a grudge match against FC Vakhsh.


The Naga Corp team list
Goalkeepers: Chhom Veasna, Pich Roven Yothin, Mak Theara
Defenders: Teat Chandara Sokha, Phau Sophy, Sun Sampratna, Neang Chenla, Chek Sokhom, Kim Chanbunrith, Sun Sovannarith (captain)
Midfielders: Meas Channa, Oyewole Yemi Joseph, Tong Soto, Chhim Sambo, Pok Chanthan, Bou Mesa
Forwards: Chin Chum, Teab Vathanak, Kob Y Sa, Pich Sina

Naga manager Lam Tiny and head coach Prak Sovannara said Sunday that they are satisfied with their accommodation at the Yangon hotel, which they share with the other visiting teams in their group. They also enthused about their training facility, while hoping that their team will transform their domestic dominance into success against international opponents.

“Everything here is OK,” asserted Prak Sovannara. “Now we focus on the upcoming games. We will try our best.”

Striker Teab Vatanak, who is making his third appearance in the tournament, is confident he will continue his fine form in front of goal, which saw him net four past Chhma Khmao last Wednesday. “Even though we don’t yet know the standard of our rivals, I’ll play with determination and score goals for my team,” assured Vatanak.

Cambodian teams have always featured in the AFC President’s Cup since its inception in 2005. Hello United (now Phnom Penh Crown) were the first team from the Kingdom, with a squad that featured a young Teab Vatanak. Hello were eliminated from the group stage, despite the four goal tally from local legend Hok Sochetra.

In 2006, Khemara Keila earned themselves a place in the competition, finishing first in their group but losing 3-0 in the quarterfinal to eventual winners Dordoi-Dynamo. Khemara triumphed again in their domestic league the following year to book a return to the President’s Cup, but were eliminated in the group stage.

Two years ago, Naga Corp made their inaugural appearance at the tourney, but despite a spirited 2-2 draw against home team Taiwan Power Company, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Dordoi-Dynamo saw them fail to advance. Eight players from their 2008 line up can be found in the current squad.

Last year, Kyrgyzstan played hosts with Phnom Penh Crown flying the Cambodian flag. With just a solitary 3-1 win against Bhutanese side Yeedzin, Crown also missed their chance to progress by finishing third in group C. Cameroonian hotshot Jean-Roger Lappe Lappe scored an impressive total of five during their group matches.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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