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Naga smash three past MND to bolt up table


A fine performance from National Defence Ministry keeper Samrith Seiha can’t prevent Naga Corp from ending up 3-0 winners

Naga Corp’s Nigerian striker Yemi Oyewole does a sliding celebration after opening the scoring against National Defence Ministry.

A FIVE-minute triple salvo in the second half by Naga Corp was enough to see off National Defence Ministry (MND) Wednesday, who had their goalkeeper, Samrith Seiha, to thank for keeping the scoreline somewhat respectable.

Inspired by the peerless Yemi Oyewole, it was Naga who made all the early running, and the first clear sight of goal came in the eighth minute when the Nigerian midfielder scuffed his shot on the edge of the box. The ball fell kindly for Sunday Okonkwo, who turned sharply before dispatching a low shot that Samrith Seiha did well to turn around the post.

The Ministry keeper, who also features on the Cambodia national team, was in inspired form in the opening 45, and once again saved well from Okonkwo just a few minutes later. If only his teammates at the other end could have matched his heroics, they may well have taken a shock lead, but MND's Um Kompheak crashed a header against the bar from just six yards out after being found by a swirling Phea Ranny free kick.

Usual business was soon resumed though, and in the 25th minute Naga laid siege to their opposition's goal, but came away with no reward. Okonko took advantage of a comedy of errors by the Ministry side but, after cutting inside, saw his ferocious shot well-saved by Samrith Seiha yet again. Meas Channa picked up the loose ball on the right of the area and stood up a wonderful ball to the far stick, but from just two yards out Teab Vathanak somehow contrived to plant his header firmly against the post when it was easier to score.

There was just enough time at the end of the first half for Naga's Pich Vorinyothin to remind the crowd there were two quality keepers on display when he leapt to his left to turn away a Um Kompheak effort that was arcing into the top corner.

The second half, however, saw MND's one-man barrier finally succumb to the constant barrage, as Naga scored three quick-fire goals to effectively finish the game by the 64th minute. Oyewole had been the best player on the pitch by a country mile, rarely giving the ball away and always choosing the right pass, so it was fitting when he opened the scoring in the 59th minute with a simple header.

Okonkwo then finally got the luck his endeavour deserved when he scored one and made one in the space of three minutes. When MND failed to clear their lines when they had the chance, the powerful forward rolled the rebound into an empty net after his initial shot had once again been saved by Samrith Seiha. Three minutes later, Okonkwo turned provider when he picked the ball up on the right, bamboozled the full-back and put in a left-footed cross, which Teab Vathanak volleyed home from six yards.

It was no more than Naga deserved, and they continued to dominate the game even after taking such a commanding lead. Samrith Seiha, who was one of the five MND players suspended at the start of the season due to suspected match-fixing, single-handedly kept Naga from opening the floodgates. He first dived at the feet of Sun Sovannarith to block well and then rushed off his line to deny Pich Sina a great opportunity as Naga comfortably saw the game out 3-0 winners to help themselves cruise into third place of the Cambodian Premier league.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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