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Svay Rieng back to title fight

Svay Rieng’s Rasak Nofiu (right) challenges Western Uni’s Privat Mbarga during their Metfone C-League
Svay Rieng’s Rasak Nofiu (right) challenges Western Uni’s Privat Mbarga during their Metfone C-League game on April 2 at the Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun

Svay Rieng back to title fight

Defending Metfone C-League champions Svay Rieng will be anxious to get out of their rather clumpy domestic campaign so far when they face Western University on Saturday at the Old Stadium after making an early exit from the group stage of the AFC President’s Cup in Mongolia more than a week ago.

The goal-less draw between the two Cambodian sides when they last met may not be a very helpful thought for Svay Rieng, whose indifferent form has been a source of concern for the camp even as they begin the second phase with two matches from the first round yet to be played.

With their title defence rocking, Svay Rieng have miles to cover before getting into a challenging position and the team could possibly count anything less than three points against Western as another setback of sorts.

Western have their own niggling worries, having slipped down the standings to last but one. The team will be in desperate search for positive results to climb out of the drop zone as early as they can.

In Saturday’s second fixture at the Old Stadium, Boeung Ket Rubber Field, on sheer class, should enjoy an easy time against bottom of the table Albirex Niigata, who have lost all but one of their 11 matches so far.

Otherwise, this weekend’s card offers two plum matches and plenty of star value at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday involving the top two in the standings, Naga Corp and Phnom Penh Crown.

The two-time champions Naga currently head the table with 24 points from 11 games, just one point ahead of Crown who have a match in hand.

Taking the pitch first will be Naga against Ministry of National Defence, a match-up that is bound to produce enough thrills at both ends.

Without being spectacular, Naga have so far maintained a healthy progression, though head coach Prak Sovannara would have wished for more goals from his highly efficient frontline. The Armymen are not an easy bunch to rundown and Naga coach is well aware of the troubles a robust side like MND could stir up.

Without the services of their central figure in the attack, Chhin Chhouen, who was away in Indonesia playing in an ASEAN charity exhibition game last Sunday, the Armymen treated National Police Commissary in a 2-0 win with a degree of disdain. Now that the hardworking mid-fielder is back, MND should feel lot more comfortable and balmy.

With four wins on the trot and last week’s draw against Naga, Asia Europe University are riding high in confidence as they take on Crown under floodlights.

Crown have stuck to their task with great fervour so far and if they play to their known strengths, the University backed side could be well within the sights of the four-time champions. But AEU’s never-say-die mentality could be a critical factor for Crown to deal with.

Saturday’s action at the Olympic Stadium features a clash between TriAsia and Build Bright United, who are currently fourth and fifth respectively in the standings.

In the later fixture, National Police, whose league campaign is not going as well as they would have wished, take on Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, who never had such a poor run in the last few seasons.

Weekend Fixtures
Saturday May 17

At the Old Stadium

Western University v Svay Rieng 1:45pm

Albirex Niigata v Boeung Ket 3:45pm

At the Olympic Stadium
National Police v Kirivong Sok Sen Chey – 3:45pm

TriAsia v Build Bright United – 6pm

Sunday May 18
At the Olympic Stadium

MND v Naga – 3:45pm

AEU v Phnom Penh Crown – 6pm

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