A dramatic upset by unfancied Avatar FC over the all powerful African All Stars 2-0, coupled with KMH All Stars’ 6-1 spanking of Khmer United on Friday, opened up the exciting prospect of five of the eight teams remaining in contention for a semi-final place when the ISI Palm KMH Super Cup completes its group stage after the Khmer Water Festival break on November 27.
At the end of the second round of games at the well attended KHM Stadium in Chaom Chao, only KMH All Stars and Bei Jeng Family FC are presumably safe but the battle for the crucial second semi-final spots will be fierce. In Group A it will be a toss-up between the Japanese and Khmer United while in the second group the Africans will have to bring out their best against Bei Jeng Family. The Europeans and World Stars have been knocked out.
With some of the leading league performers turning out for the Africans, the fan base for this popular side has steadily grown but no one could have envisaged the team’s subdued performance against Avatar, who to their credit showed greater competitive courage and second half discipline than they had against Bei Jeng in a 3-2 defeat the previous week.
While the Japanese 6-3 win over the Europeans keeps them in the hunt in Group A, the East Asian group will have to jump over Khmer United to advance to the knockout phase.
In Group B, the Africans’ defeat leaves them fighting for survival against the unbeaten Bei Jeng while Avatar seemingly have an easier path tackling the World Stars, who have shown little quality so far.
New Zealand rattled
On Friday, African All stars were forced into submission by goals for Privat Mbarga and Souen Kosal for Avatar FC.
The Africans’ usually reliable front liners Julius Oiboh and Momoh Degule were unable to strike an effective partnership. The introduction of Paul Omogba, another good league performer for Boeung Ket last season, also offered little.
Taking advantage of a defensive slip, Privat Mbarga who led AEU with such zeal last season struck in the 88th minute, still leaving enough time for Souen Kosal to double the lead.
Khmer United drew first blood in the eighth minute, but two goals in quick succession from Abiodun Micheal and Taku Yanagidate calmed the nerves of hosts KMH All stars as they took full control of the game.
Abiodun Micheal doubled his tally in the 31st minute before Blessing Fisayo added a fourth three minutes before the interval. Nduka Uche’s 68th minute strike extended the lead before Endo Mikito rounded off the tally.