The rapidly improved provincial team finished second in group D after victories over hosts Siem Reap and Kampong Thom
Provincial side Oddar Meanchey secured their place in the last 16 knockout round of the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup in emphatic style with a 5-1 drubbing of Kampong Thom Tuesday at the Siem Reap provincial stadium. Oddar Meanchey finished in second place of group D behind current Cambodian Premier League (CPL) champions Naga Corp, who also notched a comfortable win Tuesday, beating hosts Siem Reap 7-2.
Oddar Meanchey had started their Cup campaign with a predictable loss to Naga Corp Friday, before rallying to a 1-0 victory over Siem Reap Sunday, much to the disappointment of the 200-strong home crowd that turned out to watch.
“I’m so happy that our team has the chance to play the next round,” said Koeu Slaymann, manager of Oddar Meanchey. “We will face Preah Khan Reach, who finished first place of group H. It will be difficult for us, but I will push my boys to work hard soon during the preparation.”
Koeu Slaymann has been managing the provincial team for the last two years. Under his leadership, they clinched two championships in 2009, the Regional Cup and the Division A2 title.
The manager promised the team would at least consolidate their position in Division A1 next year, but could not guarantee promotion into the top flight. “Everything depends on sponsorship,” he explained. “Now we are poor. I spend my own money, with a little from the provincial department of Education, Youth and Sports.... We don’t have salary for [the players], but we can afford food and accommodation.”
Oddar Meanchey’s Nor Muslim smashed in a hattrick against Kampong Thom Tuesday, while teammates Mao Tola and Sieng Lundy also got in on the act. Kampong Thom defender Sean Sopheak came off injured during the first half to watch the rest of the game on the sideline. “We are the same standard as two others provincial sides,” claimed the defender. “But the problem for us is our team had little time to train together. However, congratulations to Oddar Meanchey [for making the next round].”
Nov Vuthy, temporary coach of Naga Corp, could only admire the performance of Oddar Meanchey team, citing a significant improvement from the previous competition. “Last year, we beat them 9-0,” he stated. “But this time, we only won 5-2. They are stronger than before. I saw five players this year, namely Ren Sovireak, Huy Ratana, Mao Tola, Sieng Lundy, Man Natavann, and I want them to join our team.”
Koeu Slaymann said he will respect the decision of his players if they chose to leave the club, but noted a concern they would not have time commit to a professional team such as Naga Corp. “We use the name Oddar Meanchey, but our players come from many areas across the Kingdom, such as Siem Reap, Kampong Speu and Phnom Penh.” Koeu Slaymann’s nephew Kop Isa joined Naga Corp last year.
Other results from the Cup
Meanwhile in Battambang Tuesday, Mekong Kampuchea University stunned CPL stalwarts National Defence Ministry 2-1 to snatch top spot in group B. Pursat sneaked D.A.T.E. 3-2 to claim a consolation third.
In Kep, group E concluded with CPL side Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and CPL relegated team Phouchung Neak heading back to the capital for more action in the knockout stage, after wins against Life University and Kampot respectively.
In Svay Rieng’s group G, Prey Veng denied provincial rivals Kandal a place in the last 16 by winning their crucial tie 2-1. CPL heavyweights Preah Khan Reach meanwhile cruised through to the next round as group leaders thanks to a perfect set of wins, which included a 15-0 goalfest against Arizon Cambodia Tuesday.