MND forward Chhin Chhoeun (R) lobs the ball over Police keeper Thong Chanreaksmey in their Hun Sen Cup tie yesterday. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
An unimpressive game at Old Stadium produced the most dramatic moment of yesterday’s quarter-finals of the seventh Samdech Hun Sen Cup, with organisers pressing pause on the Asia-Europe University v Kirivong Sok Sen Chey clash as late as the 112th minute.
Both sets of fans, some with drums and megaphones, created a cacophony of sound to spur their teams on as the sun set fast on the ground without floodlights. However, the enthusiasm seemed to stop at the sidelines.
AEU, the surprise package of the tournament so far, opened the scoring on 35 minutes in the first real chance of the match. A free kick by Thorn Darapick from 20 metres out put the Preah Vihear outfit on their way to their first Cup semi-final.
The large majority of the remainder of the game held little of note, but, with just five minutes to go, Kirivong Ho Sambo got himself on the end of a loose ball to net the equaliser after the AEU defence had played pinball in the box as part of a botched clearance.
The game was forced into extra-time as fatigue kicked in on both sides. Kirivong’s Savorn Rathak Visal somehow got his foot onto the ball off a long cross in stoppage time of the first half to sew the seeds of a remarkable comeback. Sadly, it was not to be confirmed, the fading light became too apparent and match officials called time with eight minutes left to play.
The tournament committee, made up of members of the Football Federation of Cambodia, have ruled that the second half of extra time will be played again in full from 3:30pm next Tuesday at Olympic Stadium, with the scores at 2-1 to Kirivong.
Crown streak on to semis
Having eliminated Cup holders Preah Khan Reach from the competition on Tuesday, Phnom Penh Crown edged out MCL champions Boeung Ket Rubber Field 1-0 in the earlier quarter-final match-up at Old Stadium yesterday.
Crown coach Sam Schweingruber, in his first campaign in charge of a top flight side, lauded his players and backroom staff, who coped admirably with a two-day turnaround.
“Our recovery system and the medical staff behind it are up to par with the best in the country,” he told the Post.
It was Boeung Ket that dictated the tempo of the game in the first half-hour, but despite slick combinations in midfield, they failed to get past the Crown defence.
“We can count on our offence, mostly because [Khim] Borey and [Sos] Souhana can always make something happen, even with less assistance from the outside or the back line,” said Schweingruber.
A Boeung Ket attack in the 33rd minute was quickly countered, as Souhana took control upfront to beat three defenders for a fine finish.
The Kampong Cham side were slow to bounce back from the early deficit, with Crown keeping things tight at the back until the last 10 minutes.
Boeung Ket threw simply everything they could in chase of the leveller, but two great saves by Crown keeper Samreth Seiha, a goal disallowed through offside and a last second header that missed by mere inches saw relief granted to the Crown support. The two-time champions now go on to face a mouth-watering semi-final meeting with MND a week today at Olympic Stadium.
“I have the hardest job to do now that a football coach can have after eliminating the two top teams from the tournament. I have to make sure the team doesn’t get ahead of themselves,” added Schweingruber.
Army walk on to victory
Strange was the sight of defender Khek Khemrin moving all the way up to thunder in a volley, and even stranger was striker Chhin Chhoeun lobbing the ball tennis-style one bounce into the net over the head of an advancing goalkeeper from nearly 30 yards out.
The two oddities late in the game at Olympic Stadium yesterday contrived to seal the fate of National Police Commissary, while clinching a semi-final berth for 2010 winners Ministry of National Defence.
The 2-0 victory for MND was conceived in the last 15 minutes of the game, the Chhin Chhoeun goal coming in injury time after both sides had gone through some frustrating misses.
Renewing their battle with the Police after that controversial Metfone C-League walkout last month, the Army men appeared to have traded the negative energy of that default and 5-0 loss for a composed and sustained attacking effort.
It brought MND rich dividends. More significantly, it helped the side to get over the unsavoury experience of their last meeting.
Naga nudge out BBU
Desperate in their bid to capture the one piece of coveted silverware that has eluded them so far, Naga Carp are now just two steps away from achieving that goal.
After living a charmed life and miraculously surviving a Build Bright United first-half siege, Naga hit back in the second and posted a 2-0 victory to make the last four.
It was just past the hour mark that Naga finally managed to come out of their bind when Sun Sovanarithy made good a precise assist from Choun Chum, who then doubled the lead in the next 15 minutes.
Naga had no qualms holding on to that advantage the rest of the way, although Choun Chum chose to self-destruct in an impetuous manner. He was red-carded deep into injury time for holding up play, and the thought of losing him in the next stage is not a pleasant one for the side. Naga will play the winner of the unfinished quarter-final next Friday at Olympic Stadium.