Last year's runners-up Preah Khan Reach rout navy side Phuchoung Neak 3-0 Saturday in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup 2009 third-place playoff
Phuchoung Neak are rooted to the spot as they watch a Tum Saray (second left – green shirt) header loop over keeper Thay Sineth (right) and nestle in the top corner for Preah Khan Reach’s second goal Saturday.
Beaten semifinalists Preah Khan Reach (PKR) claimed third place in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over navy side Phuchoung Neak Saturday at Olympic Stadium.
The match kicked off at 3pm - an hour later than advertised - to a subdued audience apparently saving their energy and enthusiasm for the weekend's grand final.
Early pressure was inflicted by the navy team, with PKR showing good organisation and discipline in defence.
Hok Sochetra - making a surprise start to the game for PKR after coming on late in each of the previous rounds - was presented with a one-on-one with Phuchoung keeper Thay Sineth where he should have done better than poke the ball straight into the keeper's arms.
Moments later, the navy keeper was forced to make a double save, the first parrying a stinging strike through a crowd of players by PKR's Kao Kiri that fell at the feet of Hok Sochetra, but once again the veteran striker failed to find space either side of Thay Sineth.
In the 14th minute, Hok Sochetra almost redeemed his earlier misses with a free kick from 20 metres that curled agonisingly past the near post.
The game was starting to breathe life with the pace quickening, passes connecting and players showing good vision and movement to set up attacks down the wings.
PKR were looking the more competent at the back, their Vietnamese-signed Duong Lam Vu playing the sweeper position to perfection.
Phuchoung created a smattering of chances. Seng Kosal of the navy side swung in a corner from the left that sliced through a busy box, but no one could find the crucial contact.
Crowd favorite Hok Sochetra received vocal support every time he touched the ball, although the biggest cheer of the half came when he comically tripped over himself in the centre circle.
Phuchoung were lacking conviction up front, instead opting to keep men back in defence rather than committing to attack. Midfielder Joseph Oyewole remained mostly in his own half with the navy team forwards clearly missing his offensive prowess and incisive through balls.
Preah Khan Reach’s veteran striker Hok Sochetra (left) controls the ball on his chest.
Controversy surrounded a blatant professional foul by PKR's Phea Piphub on Phuchoung's Pov Samnang just outside the box that denied the striker a clear route to goal with a colleague completely unmarked to the left. A free kick was awarded but Phea Piphub incredibly escaped punishment.
Just before the interval, Hok Sochetra chested down a ball in the area and cleverly beat his man, only to power his strike over the bar.
Fortunately for goal-hungry fans, the deadlock was broken shortly after the restart. With PKR's Samel Nasa granted a second chance at a cross, the ball was floated invitingly to the back post where Hok Sochetra's second half replacement Khuon Laboravy headed into Tuy Som on the goalline. A brief scramble eventually allowed Khuon Laboravy to knock in from close range and open the scoring.
Phuchoung had no answer for the threat of Samel Nasa, who dominated the right wing for much of the second half, supplying a series of telling crosses into the danger area.
Yet again, a comedy moment caused one of the biggest stirs in the stand when Samel Nasa collided with the linesman.
Around the hour mark, the navy team put the ball in the back of the net from a stunning left-foot volley by Seng Kosal, but the whistle had already blown for a kick to the head of PKR's Sok Rithy by Sunday Silva.
Phuchoung were always looking vulnerable in defence and in the 62nd minute, slack man-marking allowed Tum Saray to direct his unchallenged header into the top corner from a Duong Lam Vu cross to give PKR a two-goal cushion.
With ten minutes to go, shambolic defending by the navy side presented Samel Nasa with acres of space and time to check for an offside flag to latch on to a through ball on the right. Thay Sineth came off his line to push the winger wide to the byline but his pull back was eventually bundled in by Khuon Laboravy to seal the victory for PKR.
With fans heading to the car park already, a rare lapse in concentration by Duong Lam Vu gave away possession in his own half to set up Sunday Silva but the Nigerian was unlucky to see his vicious shot sliced into the side netting.
After the game, PKR players stayed on the pitch for a congratulatory talk from coaches and club owners. PKR manager Rith Dikar noted that his team played better in the game than in the semifinal fixture they lost the previous week but came into the fixture with supreme confidence. "We have played [the navy team] four times already, but we never lose," he said.
With the win, PKR received a prize of 20 million riels (US$4,890). The teams now prepare for the Cambodian Premiership season starting after the Khmer New Year.
When asked about his ambitions for the league competition, Rith Dikar said: "This time I dont want [my team] to be number three, I want [us] to be champions."
All photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)