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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Naga shoot down Army, Boeung Ket bash Albirex

MND’s Khek Khemarin attempts an overhead clearance next to Naga’s Barry Lelouna
MND’s Khek Khemarin attempts an overhead clearance next to Naga’s Barry Lelouna (left) during their MCL match at the Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun

Naga shoot down Army, Boeung Ket bash Albirex

Former champions Naga Corp began their 2014 Metfone C-League season with a 3-0 win over Ministry of National Defence at the Olympic Stadium yesterday. All three goals came within the first 26 minutes of the game with Naga’s foreign signings playing a dominant role.

It proved a terrible first half under the bar for MND goalkeeper Oum Vichet, whose panicked reaction inside the box led to the first goal and his butter-fingers to the second. Even in the third he was caught napping.

Naga pitched in vastly experienced South Korean midfielder Jang In Yong alongside 19-year-old Guinean striker Barry Lelouma, now into his second season, with versatile Japanese midfielder Fukasawa Masahiro
controlling the flow.

All three were so lively in the first few minutes a goal seemed inevitable, and that after a good MND attempt had agonisingly been denied by the crossbar. It was the young Lelouma who triggered chaos by driving in, and the result was that Jang got a loose cannon to fire. The Korean’s angular shot nicked the inside of the post before going in as a totally scattered MND backline and the keeper watched helplessly.

Within three minutes of this opening salvo came a Lelouma initiated long-ranger greeted as it was by a host of heads. Defender Tieng Tiny’s tall frame beat the rest to it, and though Vichet covered the angle well enough and nearly clasped the ball, it popped out of his hands and tragically past the goal line.

The third Naga goal had a ring of chance about it as Sun Sovannrithy managed a timely touch to a Jang essay, with the ball speeding past a defender and goalkeeper. MND were clearly down for the count.

Though the armymen kept pushing back in the second session and sought fresh sets of legs no less than three times, they kept firing blanks and Naga’s defence proved more than adequate in handling the job of
containment. Yesterday’s late kickoff at the Olympic Stadium saw Phnom Penh Crown hammer Asia Europe University 4-0 to secure top spot in the league table. All four goals came in the 24-minute blitz in the second half, with Leng Makara getting things going on 56 minutes before Bin Chantha Thierry doubled their advantage.

New Nigerian signing George Bisan then put the game beyond doubt with a goal of his own, and Khim Borey put the icing on the cake with a late penalty.

Boeung Ket’s Chan Vathanka (centre) tries to win the ball in front of Albirex’s Niigata’s Thin Sambath during their 2014 MCL opener
Boeung Ket’s Chan Vathanka (centre) tries to win the ball in front of Albirex’s Niigata’s Thin Sambath during their 2014 MCL opener at the Old Stadium on Saturday. Sreng Meng Srun

Chan Vathanaka starts supremely
The opening day buzz on Saturday was created by talented Chan Vathanaka, who booted home a hat-trick in Boeung Ket’s 4-1 thrashing of Albirex Niigata at the Old Stadium. The first foreign franchise to gain entry to the Kingdom’s premier league found themselves at the deep end as last year’s runners-up took firm control through a domineering display by Vathanaka.

Sok Pheng found one more goal for the 2012 champions as Kazuki Tatsuta pulled one back for Albirex.

At the Olympic Stadium, General Commissariat of National Police began their campaign on a winning note, outplaying Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 2-0.

Midfielder Noun Borey was in his elements for the Police, landing a brace with the first goal coming as early as the seventh minute. His second in the 58th virtually slammed the door shut on Takeo-based Kirivong.

In a late evening encounter at the same venue, new entrants TriAsia saw substitute Sok Chanrasmey, who took to the field 10 minutes into the second half, leveled the score in the 67th minute after Build Bright United had shot in front with a 38th minute goal by Rasheed Adeyanju.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw despite some hectic activity at both ends keeping the game in the balance.

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