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Wat Phnom shock Army lads

Wat Phnom notch a surprising 1-0 victory over National Defence Ministry Wednesday in the opening fixture of the 2010 Metfone C-League second leg


Wat Phnom’s Khieu Vibol (left) slides in to challenge National Defence Ministry’s Phuong Soksana during their match Wednesday.

Wat Phnom’s Ry Phearoeun (second left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against National Defence Ministry.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

WAT Phnom kick-started their second half of the Metfone C-League with a 1-0 upset of fourth placed National Defence Ministry (MND) Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.

League strugglers Wat Phnom, who suffered seven losses in their first nine fixtures, had appointed former Phouchoung Neak director Chai Sichouen as manager during the mid-season break. The shakeup in the boardroom seemed to do the trick, with striker Ry Phearoeun giving his side the lead inside 17 minutes.

A defensive blunder, which left Army goalkeeper Samrith Seiha in no man’s land, saw Ry Phearoeun left all on his own to make a simple tap in at the near corner.

One of Chai Sichouen’s first actions as Wat Phnom boss was to bring in one of his former players, Peter Ejike, from the relegated Navy team to the club. The Nigerian partnered compatriot Henry Uche to create a strong barrier in the middle of the park and thwart MND’s attacking forays.

25 minutes into the game, Ry Phearoeun could have doubled the lead when he cut inside his marker, but his shot was blasted skywards.

Wat Phnom continued to dominate possession as the game reached the half hour mark, with the Army looking to be nursing the hangover of their 4-1 loss to Preah Khan Reach in their last match.

Twice in quick succession, Wat Phnom created and missed clear chances. First a cross from Ejike eluded every one in the box, with teammate Yang Ty closets to connecting with his head. Moments later, Ry Phearoeun was well placed to take a shot only for Samreth Seiha to deflect for a corner.

The Army’s best chance of the half came when indecision between Wat Phnom goalkeeper Sin Pisal and his defender Sun Meng Hout allowed Khim Borey to steal the ball and set up Suong Vireak, whose attempted lob failed to drop the right side of the crossbar.

Six minutes before the interval, Wat Phnom stringed passes together before a cross found Ejike on the edge of the box. The debutant controlled beautifully and sent a volley on the turn screaming tantalizingly over the crossbar.

After a scrappy first five minutes of the second period, MND expressed their intent for an equaliser with Sin Dalin forcing a diving save and a goal mouth scramble from the ensuing corner kick. Wat Phnom’s Henry Uche was at hand to mop up the danger.

With an hour gone, MND started to confine Wat Phnom to their own half and set up a series of corner kicks. In the space of five minutes, Army took six corners as Sin Pisal made finger tip saves and the defence held out to maintain their slim advantage.

Army suddenly woke up from their slumber, as Sin Dalin fired a rocket which was again punched away by Sin Pisal. The rebound fell kindly for Suong Vireak, but the striker shot wide from 12 yards out.

At the other end, Wat Phnom fluffed the chance to put the game to bed with a quarter of an hour left when Samrith Seiha misjudged the flight of the ball and it dropped in the path of Ry Phearoeun. However, before he could pull the trigger, Hout Seyha came across to clear to safety.

The last 10 minutes left Wat Phnom fans at the edge of their seats, as their defence were subjected to an onslaught from the Army attack. However, a further nine corner kicks and two late glaring misses from Suong Vireak yielded nothing as MND confirmed it was not to be their day.

Chai Sichouen was mightily relieved after hearing referee Chhour Mengtong sound the final whistle at the end of a nailbiting six minutes of injury time. “I am happy we won,” he said. “It was no doubt a tough game for us, but the players did well and deserved to win. We will take each game as it comes and see where we go from here til the end of the season.”

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