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Teams eye Cup final berths

Coach Prak Sovannara faces his former club. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

The last four standing in the 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup will do battle at Olympic Stadium this weekend for a place in next week’s final. Three teams reached this stage last year, while Build Bright United have now improved on their quarterfinal exit. Here’s an analysis of the fixtures:

Preah Khan Reach v Naga Corp
Saturday March 5 – 3pm
Coach Prak Sovannara will lead Naga to play against his former team Preah Khan Reach. Last year the two sides met each other in the third place playoff, which PKR won 3-2.

“Playing against a side such as PKR, with six or seven players in the national team, is not an easy one,” said Prak Sovannara. “We need to strengthen our squad to win the game.”

Meas Channa’s ankle injury is the only concern for Naga Corp, with the coach expecting strikers Teab Vathanak and Ek Vannak to be busy in their attacking third.

PKR, meanwhile, welcome the return of skipper Sam El Nasa, Lay Rasmey and Prak Mony Udom, although they will be without youngsters Chea Samnang and Moul Daravoan following two yellow cards from previous matches.

“We want to win every match, but its difficult to predict the result before the ninety minutes are up,” said PKR coach Rith Dikar. “Naga have a good coach and experienced players, but we will try hard until the end.”

The PKR tactician has firm belief in striker Khoun Laboravy, who has netted 19 goals for the team during the campaign so far to lead the scorers charts. His closest rival In Vichheka, on 16 goals, is already eliminated with his team Kirivong Sok Sen Chey. “Boravy will score more for us and he will be awarded 100 percent the Golden Boot of the tournament,” added Rith Dikar.

Both teams have yet to taste success in the Hun Sen Cup, with Naga reaching the final twice in 2007 and 2009 and PKR losing 1-0 to Phnom Penh Crown in the 2008 final.

BBU v National Defence Ministry
Sunday March 6 – 3pm
After eliminating tournament favourites Phnom Penh Crown last weekend, BBU coach Meas Sam Oeurn thinks his side have the momentum to advance to the final for the first time in their history.

Despite the university backed club being hit with suspensions to three key players – goalkeeper Hem Simay, midfielder Chhun Sothearath and defender Tuy Sam – the coach has faith in his remaining squad members.

“[Reserve keeper] Sos Proshim, who saved two penalties in the match against Phnom Penh Crown, will be used again, while Prom Puthsethy will replace Chhun Sothearath’s position in midfield. Nuth Sinoun and Sem Bunny will also work hard up front,” said Meas Sam Oeurn, adding that he is currently awaiting news on the availability of former Crown midfielder Srey Veasna who plays for Loei City in Thailand.

“If we receive the agreement from his club, we can put him the squad,” said the coach.

Holders National Defence Ministry are still on course to retain the Hun Sen Cup under the guidance of battle-hardened boss Op Sam An. Midfielder Ouk Thon is back from a one-match ban as is right winger Touch Sok Heng, who has recovered from a knee injury.

Pheak Rady and Keo Vannak were in top form last time out as the Army eliminated Kirivong 4-1, and Op Sam An believes his youngsters hold the key to a successful title defence.



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