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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Samdech Hun Sen Cup last 16 teams face off in Phnom Penh matches

Samdech Hun Sen Cup last 16 teams face off in Phnom Penh matches

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Cambodian Premier League big guns and some provincial hopefuls head to the capital to play out Cup ties for a place in the quarterfinals beginning January 30 at Olympic Stadium

THE lineup for the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup last-16 round is complete after preliminary rounds played out over the eight days since the tournament began January 7. The four provincial centers of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kep and Svay Rieng went mostly to script, with Post Tel Club being the only quarterfinalist from last year’s Cup that failed to make the knockout stage.

Cambodian Premier League (CPL) teams Phnom Penh Crown, Naga Corp, Preah Khan Reach, Khemara Keila, National Defence Ministry, and Build Bright United qualified without too much drama, while provincial sides Chhma Khmao (Svay Rieng), Oddar Meanchey, Rithy Sen (Kampong Chhnang), Prey Veng and Mekong Kampuchea University will make their first-ever appearances in the Phnom Penh round of competition. All games will be held at Olympic Stadium, starting January 30.

Phnom Penh Crown v Phouchung Neak
Defending champions Phnom Penh Crown won all four of their group A matches in Battambang, scoring 26 goals without reply. They face Navy side Phouchung Neak, runners up in group E, at 2pm Saturday, January 30.

Phouchung Neak were relegated to division A1, after finishing rock bottom of the 2009 CPL. Their impressive Cup run last year saw them make the semifinals, where they lost to Naga Corp and then to Preah Khan Reach (PKR) in the third-place playoff, although they did pick up the fair play team award. The navy outfit had made the last 16 round in the previous year, getting knocked out by PKR.

Phnom Penh Crown, meanwhile, finished the 2009 regular season top of the table, but lost to Naga Corp and Preah Khan Reach in the Super 4 playoffs to end up in fourth. After claiming third place in the 2007 Samdech Hun Sen Cup, they began to dominate the competition, taking the title in 2008 and 2009.

The teams have never met each other in previous Cups, but Phnom Penh Crown unsurprisingly hold a superior record in league matches. “We lost only once to the Navy team in our history in the top league,” stated Crown manager Be Makara. “However, we can’t look down on the opponents. We need to try our best for the upcoming match. If we lose, we will lose everything.”

The team tactician asserted his confidence in club newcomers Chan Dara from Khemara Keila and Heng Sok Ly from Phouchung Neak. “They showed great performances during the preliminary round. Maybe we will use striker Heng Sok Ly to play against his former team and use Keo Sokgnorn as a midfielder,” revealed Be Makara.

Right winger Srey Vesna is the club’s top scorer after netting a remarkable 17 goals during the preliminary round.

For Phouchung manager Chay Sichoeun however, it’s hard to think optimistically about their chances. “Many players are suffering injury and some of them received yellow cards during the preliminary round, so we are in a difficult situation,” he conceded.

The manager also bemoaned the loss of Heng Sok Ly to their upcoming opponents. “The result might be better if we had him,” suggested Chay Sichoeun. “Our team has a problem in attack. I want the Football Federation of Cambodia to set up a transfers policy. If we don’t have any policy, the rich clubs can always attract the players from the poor sides, such as Phouchung Neak.”

The manager also revealed a change in club name and a squad merger to help instill a fresh mentality after the competition. “With the current name, the team suffered poor performances and we were relegated to division A1. We will change our name to Chhlarm Samut [Sea Shark] and join with the Koh Kong team,” confirmed Chay Sichoeun.

Mekong Kampuchea Uni v Wat Phnom
Mekong Kampuchea University is participating in only its second Samdech Hun Sen Cup tournament. Last year, the team failed to advance from the preliminary round, but this year they took victories in all three of their group matches to finish above the favoured National Defence Ministry. Mekong Kampuchea face Wat Phnom at 4pm January 30.

“We’ve worked hard and we’ve trained regularly because we need success from our first time in the last-16 round,” stated Chaing Chantara, assistant manager of the university side. “We have a young side and players who can improve. I’m fortunate to have players like them.”

The assistant believes that the players will maintain their fine form from the group stage, while recognising that all teams in the knockout round are strong. The team are currently unhindered by injuries.

Despite Wat Phnom – who were previously called Spark FC – also failing to qualify for next round in 2009, they remain odds on to progress to the quarterfinals this year due to their Premier League experience.

“We are not so afraid about Mekong Kampuchea [University],” said Vann Dara, coach of Wat Phnom. “We have few weeks for preparation, so we plan to play friendly matches with some strong clubs to test our performance. We don’t focus only on the match against Mekong Kampuchea, but also on the next round. If we reach the quarterfinals, we will probably meet Phnom Penh Crown, so we have to work hard from now.”

During the group stage, only Tan Rachana Udom picked up an injury. “He is our best central defender, and I hope that he will recover in time for the upcoming match,” said the coach.

Build Bright United v Prey Veng
Build Bright United (BBU) are the top university-backed side in the Kingdom, and the only one playing in the Premier League. After moderate success in previous Cups, including third in their 2008 campaign, they will look to improve on their quarterfinal exit last year and face a last-16 fixture against group G runners up Prey Veng.

BBU coach Meas Sam Oeun knows the game won’t be easy for his side, but hopes his boys can overcome the obstacle. “We can’t say one team is strong or one team is weak, but we need to strengthen our team for victory,” he expressed adding that his squad had been hit by injuries to Oum Chandara, Un Viputh, Phan Sophannara and Chhun Sothearath, although only the latter seemed a real concern.

Kong Soy, coach of Prey Veng, realizes they face an uphill task in the tournament. “I’m so happy that we have qualified, but I can’t guarantee we will continue further,” he said. “BBU is a professional team, so it’s hard for me to say something positive about [our chances in] the upcoming match.”

In the preliminary round, CPL stalwarts Khemara Keila trounced Prey Veng 5-0, although the coach thought the result was not too bad for his young team. “Even though we still lack of experience, but we are not a weak team,” he asserted. “We will not allow our opponents to score many goals against us and my players will play to win the game.”

BBU and Prey Veng meet at 2pm on January 31.

Naga Corp v Chhma Khmao
As winners of group C, Naga Corp booked a date with group H runners-up Chhma Khmao of Svay Rieng province. Naga Corp, twice-beaten Cup finalists and current CPL champions, hope to finally lift the trophy this year. In the 2007 final, they lost 4-2 on penalties to Khemara Keila after a 1-1 deadlock through extra time. The following year they were knocked out by Phnom Penh Crown in the quarterfinals, before a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in the 2009 final to the same team.

“We missed two times to become champions, so we don’t want such events happening against to us,” said Nov Vuthy, Naga’s newly appointed coach during an interview in Siem Reap. “We really need the success in every round.”

The coach expressed the need to continue to bolster the squad. “I have mature players in the team, but I also need the new ones to strengthen the club. Chhma Khmao are also a big challenge for us, so we cannot play by looking down on them.”

Chhma Khmao coach Pin Dara, meanwhile, was given confidence by his team’s play during the preliminary round. Against “Preah Khan Reach, we led the game 3-1, but we lost 3-4 [due to goals] in the last minutes, so our performance is not too bad,” he remarked. “We’ve learned our weakness from the past, so we hope do well in the upcoming game against Naga Corp.”

Chhma Khmao will also face Naga Corp in this year’s Premier League after gaining promotion from division A1. A victory on January 31 however, would provide a significant piece of history for the Svay Rieng club. The match kicks off at 4pm.

Kirivong Sok Sen Chey v Rithy Sen
Takeo-based team Kirivong Sok Sen Chey pipped Phouchung Neak on goal difference to finish top of group E. Their opponents, Rithy Sen from Kampong Chhnang, managed to claim the runners-up spot of group A behind Phnom Penh Crown thanks to a 2-0 victory over Battambang in their last match.

Last year, Kirivong were knocked out of the last-16 round by Build Bright United by means of a thrilling penalty shootout. Rithy Sen meanwhile, are making their first trip to the capital to play in the Cup.

Heng Chantheang, new coach at Kirivong, is optimistic with his team. Previously, “in comparison to the foreign players in the team, the Cambodian boys were a lower standard”, he admitted. “But now they’ve improved a lot. I hope that they will make me smile after playing against Rithy Sen.”

The coach has had spells at several clubs in Phnom Penh, such as Hello United (the former name of Phnom Penh Crown), the navy team (Phouchung Neak) and Naga Corp.

“I’ll use all my energy to lead the club, even though some of our players suffered injuries during the preliminary round in Kep province due to a substandard playing field,” Heng Chantheang remarked. “We are the same level as Rithy Sen.”

However, Rithy Sen coach Tam Matt noted the significant challenge that Kirivong pose them in the next match. “Now they are a professional team, the players have their salary from the club,” he noted. “We are still a community team with volunteer players. So we will face a tough test in the last 16 round.”

In past meetings, Rithy Sen holds the upper hand with two wins over the Takeo team when they were both playing in division A2. “The club’s history also pushes our players to get victory,” revealed Tam Matt. “So I still hope that my team can beat Kirivong again.” The teams are scheduled to meet at 2pm on February 6.

Koh Kong v National Defence Ministry
Koh Kong took group F by storm, with victories in all four of their group games to clinch the first qualification slot. In the last-16 round they come up against CPL side National Defence Ministry (MND), runners-up of group B.

The provincial side make their second appearance in the knockout stage, after falling 2-0 to Naga Corp last year.

“We’ve prepared well and have made the health of players one of our top priorities,” stated Koh Kong coach Slayman Salim. “We need to reinforce all positions when playing against big teams such as National Defense. I can’t evaluate the performance of the opponents’ team, but I keep trying to push my players to try their best in every match.” The two teams have met each other on occasions in the past, and the Koh Kong coach said they were generally equally balanced contests and often end in draws.

The National Defence Ministry is the only team in the top division that features purely Cambodian talent, now a requirement for the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup. They have qualified from the last 16 in all four of the past competitions.

Hor Sok Heng, assistant coach of MND, told the Post he had stepped up their training regime to prepare for the Cup. “All teams are strong because they have reached this stage, so we cannot demean our opponents,” he said. “Our players must work hard before and during the match.”

The assistant scotched rumours that MND had lost deliberately to Mekong Kampuchea University in their final group match to avoid ending as group leaders and prevent a meeting with Phnom Penh Crown in the quarterfinals.

“Our team is not scared of any rivals,” asserted Hor Sok Heng, adding that a mainly reserve team lineup had been fielded due to guaranteed qualification. “However, I’m so sad with the result.”

Khemara Keila v Prek Pra Keila
Despite a worrying financial situation behind the scenes, the 2007 Cup champions Khemara Keila made a blistering start to their 2010 campaign, winning all three of their preliminary matches in Svay Rieng’s group G. They even outfired Phnom Penh Crown (who played four games) scoring an incredible 28 goals while keeping clean sheets throughout.

Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh suburban side Prek Pra Keila qualified for the knockout stage for the second successive year, after placing second in group C. Last year, they were given a 7-0 drubbing by eventual winners Phnom Penh Crown. The two Keilas face off at 2pm on February 7.

Lah Salakhan, manager of Khemara, noted that there’ll be no easy games from here on out. “We’ve always prepared the team to win the game, and other teams do the same way, so it’s difficult to predict the result,” he said.

According to the manager, team captain and striker Kuoch Sokumpheak is suspended for the upcoming fixture after picking up a red card during their last match against Arizon Cambodia. “I’m so sad about that,” said Lah Salakhan. “But the team has other boys with skills, and I hope they will lift Khemara to the next round.”

Khemara won their last game 15-0, with Kuoch Sokumpheak netting a perfect 10 to take his tally in the competition to 18 and stay on course to retain his golden boot award.

Prek Pra Keila manager Sos Karim was pleased with his team’s current form. “We are a volunteer team playing against a professional team. I cannot say 100 percent whether we will win or lose. However, my team did well in the preliminary round, such a 0-0 draw with Build Bright United, one of big teams in the Kingdom. So we keep encouraging the players to do what they can for success.”

However, the manager voiced concern about four key members of his squad nursing injuries. “They are our best boys, but two of them have already returned for training and I hope all of them will be available to play against Khemara,” he remarked.

Preah Khan Reach v Oddar Meanchey
Military police side Preah Khan Reach (PKR) were ousted at the last-16 stage by Khemara Keila during the inaugural cup in 2007, but produced a stunning run the following year to make the finals, where they lost 1-0 to Phnom Penh Crown. Last year, they claimed third, after comfortably beating Phouchung Neak 4-0 in the playoffs.

In this year’s tournament, PKR triumphed in all three matches of their group H games, while last-16 opponents Oddar Meanchey surprised everyone by qualifying as runners-up from group D.

“Even though we won all three matches, I’m not so happy with the results which saw rivals teams scoring a total of seven goals against us,” commented Prak Sovannara, head coach at PKR. “I’ve learned that my team needs to strengthen its defence. I cannot dismiss Oddar Meanchey, which feature many players from Phnom Penh.

“We met them once in 2007,” he continued. “We won 5-2, but they scored first and put us under considerable pressure. The only one thing I have to do is to push my players to work with determination.”

According to the coach, the squad are free from injury and can gain strength from performances by players such as Khoun Laboravy, who netted 14 goals during the group stage.

Koeu Slaymann, manager of Oddar Meanchey, was proud of his team’s achievements but accepted that they faced a huge challenge in the next round. “I’m so happy that Oddar Meanchey is the only provincial team from the Tonle Sap region to reach to the last-16 stage,” he stated. “Now we are in a difficult point. We are the new generation and PKR are the experienced team. They have the strong structure and sponsorship, but we have not.

“However, we have to be optimistic for the upcoming game. If we win, it will be a great pleasure for us. If we lose, I can assure you that it won’t be by a big margin. I believe in the performance of my players,” he stated, adding that there would be some changes to his lineup due to injuries.

SIEM REAP CENTRE

GROUP C

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Build Bright United

3

2

1

0

9

0

9

7

2

Prek Pra Keila

3

2

1

0

5

2

3

7

3

Preah Vihear Provincial

3

1

0

2

5

11

-6

3

4

Red Lion FC

3

0

0

3

2

8

-6

0

GROUP D

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Naga Corp

3

3

0

0

24

4

20

9

2

Oddar Meanchey Province

3

2

0

1

8

6

2

6

3

Siem Reap Province

3

0

1

2

2

8

-6

1

4

Kampong Thom Province

3

0

1

2

1

17

-16

1

BATTAMBANG CENTRE

GROUP A

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Phnom Penh Crown

4

4

0

0

26

0

26

12

2

Rithi Sen

4

3

0

1

21

2

19

9

3

Battambang Province

4

2

0

2

9

10

- 1

6

4

Pailin Province

4

1

0

3

6

20

-14

3

5

Banteay Meanchey Province

4

0

0

4

2

32

-30

0

GROUP B

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Mekong Kampuchea University

3

3

0

0

7

3

4

9

2

National Defence Ministry

3

2

0

1

9

4

5

6

3

Pursat Province

3

1

0

2

6

9

-3

3

4

D.A.T.E.

3

0

0

3

3

9

-6

0

LAST 16 KNOCKOUT ROUND

DATE

TIME

TEAMS

RESULT

Saturday January 30

14:00

A1 / Phnom Penh Crown

E2 / Phouchung Neak

16:00

B1 / Mekong Kampuchea Uni

F2 / Wat Phnom

Sunday January 31

14:00

C1 / Build Bright United

G2 / Prey Veng

16:00

D1/ Naga Corp

H2 / Chhma Khmao

Saturday February 6

14:00

E1 / Kirivong Sok Sen Chey

A2 / Rithi Sen

16:00

F1 / Koh Kong

B2 / National Defence Ministry

Sunday February 7

14:00

G1 / Khemara Keila

C2 / Prek Pra Keila

16:00

H1 / Preah Khan Reach

D2 / Oddar Meanchey

KEP CENTRE

GROUP E

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Kirivong Sok Sen Chey

3

2

1

0

8

1

7

7

2

Phouchung Neak

3

2

1

0

7

2

5

7

3

Life University

3

0

1

2

2

4

-2

1

4

Kampot Province

3

0

1

2

3

13

-10

1

GROUP F

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Koh Kong Province

4

4

0

0

13

2

11

12

2

Wat Phnom

4

3

0

1

16

4

12

9

3

Kang Reach Sei

4

2

0

2

7

6

1

6

4

Kep Province

4

1

0

3

4

9

-5

3

5

Post Tel Club

4

0

0

4

2

21

-19

0

SVAY RIENG CENTRE

GROUP G

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Khemara Keila

3

3

0

0

28

0

28

9

2

Prey Veng Province

3

2

0

1

5

7

-1

6

3

Kandal Province

3

1

0

2

2

10

-8

3

4

Arizon Cambodia

3

0

0

3

1

19

-18

0

GROUP H

N0

TEAMS

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Preah Khan Reach

3

3

0

0

22

7

15

9

2

Chhma Khmao

3

2

0

1

18

5

13

6

3

B.B. World

3

1

0

2

10

8

2

3

4

Kratie Province

3

0

0

3

3

33

-30

0

0

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