Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Army out to upset odds in final

Army out to upset odds in final

Boeung Ket’s Maycon Calijuri (left) and National Defence Ministry defender Jang Song-hyok vie for the ball at Old Stadium on September 16. Boeung Ket won 2-1.
Boeung Ket’s Maycon Calijuri (left) and National Defence Ministry defender Jang Song-hyok vie for the ball at Old Stadium on September 16. Boeung Ket won 2-1.

Army out to upset odds in final

The odds on National Defence Ministry making it all the way to the championship round of the Metfone C-League through the playoffs this year after their topsy-turvy league campaign would, even at the start of this month, have been too big for even the most ardent of supporters to lay on an outside bet.

Yet Army have battled over the past few weeks to set up a title fight with Boeung Ket this evening at 6pm at Olympic Stadium to give themselves a chance to avenge last year’s heartbreak, when the Blue Dragon beat them to the ultimate prize by just one point in a format where the league winners were crowned champions.

It was the cruellest way of depriving Army their first taste of league success since the competition began in its current format in 2005.

The only championship win they had until then was back in 1993, back when the league was more of a contest among establishment teams rather than the structured Cambodian Premier League it is today.

The Hun Sen Cup has been a happier hunting ground for the Army

outfit, with last year’s victory in a nerve-jangling penalty shootout against Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng joining their success in 2010 and a runners-up medal in 2013.

Calijuri returns
Boeung Ket are the league winners again this year, but the championship will only be theirs if they get past a much-changed Army, who are on course for a fairytale ending to the season after edging out NagaWorld on penalties in the first playoff and then humbling Svay Rieng on their own turf in the next.

With Wednesday night’s defeat by top-flight newcomers Electricite du Cambodge in the Cup third-place playoff causing some concern, caretaker coach Hav Socheat will be glad to see the return of Maycon Calijuri alongside Nigerian imports Esoh Omogba and Samuel Ajayi to bolster the side for Saturday’s grand final against a side operating at a high level of self-assurance and competence.

Boeung Ket’s Brazilian striker Calijuri has been hitting the back of the net regularly for the side and is now well poised to take home the golden boot with 21 goals so far this season.

But for Boeung Ket, preventing Army’s much feared North Korean marauders Cho Myong-ho and Kim Kyong-hun springing surprises will be just as important as breaking down Army’s robust and often rugged style of defending.

It is a big game for interim coach Socheat, who took over in May, nearly halfway through the league cycle, from Liverpool-born Australian coach John McGlynn, who lasted four months in the job after replacing former national coach Prak Sovanara in early January this year.

Having seen his Hun Sen Cup hopes dashed by Naga last week in the semifinal defeat and then missing out on a third-place finish to league newcomers EdC, this will be Socheat’s last chance to end the season with success.

Army were boosted by a short trip to a mini tournament in China last month. As the team camp put it, the players not only felt invigorated after the experience, but it also strengthened their resolve to face the harder tests that were to lie ahead when they returned home to complete the domestic season.

Now they are just one hurdle away from their dream of winning the Metfone C-League for the first time.

MOST VIEWED

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the

  • Fish, frogs to boost local food supply

    The government has disbursed more than $4.5 million to boost aquaculture production and domestic market supply amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Monday that in boosting agricultural production, the ministry has received financing from development partners

  • Planning ministry hands out cash to 420,000 poor families in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Planning has identified 20,000 more poor families in the country, bringing the total to over 580,000, while over 420,000 of them have received the government’s cash assistance. In the meantime, many social security cards from families not deemed to be poor have been revoked.

  • Nature in focus at inaugural film and photo festival

    The first Cambodian Wildlife Photo and Film Festival – an event celebrating the conservation of nature through the eyes of wildlife photographers, nature enthusiasts and conservation experts – is scheduled for July 18-26 at Fauna in Focus’ Nature Discovery Centre in Siem Reap. The festival will be