Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bad referee calls infuriate players

Bad referee calls infuriate players

Bad referee calls infuriate players

A sequence of bewildering and missed calls from referee and linesmen during Naga Corp’s 2-2 draw with Preah Khan Reach Saturday caused arguments to delay proceedings by four minutes

Preah Khan Reach goalkeeper Ouk Mich (second left) and team captain Samel Nasa (second right) argue with the linesman and referee during the Cambodian Premier League match against Naga Corp at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Both Naga Corp and Preah Khan Reach (PKR) felt aggrieved at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday after their Cambodian Premier League game exploded into controversy in the second half. The referee and linesmen were in the eye of the storm when one goal that shouldn't have stood was given and a perfectly good one was almost disallowed.

It had all begun in much milder fashion, with Naga dominating and after 17 minutes nearly forcing an opener when Meas Channa flashed a superb low cross across the six yard box. Two Naga attackers flexed every muscle, but neither was able to make the vital connection.

Soon afterwards, Naga keeper Pich Rovinyothin was quick enough off his line to thwart Olisa Onyemerea when the big Nigerian forward chased a through ball. However, with nine minutes left in the half, a similar situation yielded the opener when Ifeanyi Alex played a raking ball behind the Naga defence, and this time Onyemerea was first to it. A great first touch was followed by an even better second as he rifled a right-footed drive across the keeper and into the far corner.

The goal was harsh on Naga, but they didn't have to wait long for the equaliser. Just five minutes later, captain Oum Thavarak arrived at the back post to plant a bullet header just underneath the bar from a Meas Channa corner to send the sides into the break all square.

It took just five minutes for the second half to burst into life. When a free-kick was swung into the box, Naga had chances to clear, but somehow the ball found its way to Onyemerea, who was standing on the line. In rolling the ball home, the African striker became active and should have been given offside, but, despite fervent Naga protestations, the linesman kept his flag at his side.

Kirivong Sok Sen Chey keeper Kem Makara (left) makes an aerial challenge with Phouchung Neak captain Kao Nyso during their CPL game Saturday.

Chances followed for both teams, but neither net was troubled again until the 71st minute, and once again it was shrouded in controversy. It needn't have been, though. Meas Channa simply sent in a wicked, curling corner kick which flew straight in at the near post despite the best efforts of PKR defender Sok Ratha on the line.

At first it seemed that the referee had, for no apparent reason, disallowed the goal, with PKR playing on. However, after consultation between referee and linesman, the officials came to an understanding and gave the goal. PKR were furious, and the protests lasted a full four minutes. None seemed more incensed than PKR keeper Ouk Mich, who raced 50 yards to remonstrate with the referee's assistant and even gave him a lesson in how to raise his flag.

Eventually, silly season petered out, and the game continued without much incident. With the sides deadlocked at 2-2, Meas Channa wasted a golden opportunity, having gone clean through, but the winger hit his shot too weakly to take the spoils, so the points were shared.

Kirivong 2 Phouchung 1
A brace from Julius Chukwumeka settled the second game of the afternoon as Kirivong Sok Sen Chey just about managed to overcome a spirited Phouchung Neak side.

Indeed, rock-bottom Phouchung turned the form book on its head in some style when they took the lead after 23 minutes. A free-kick was awarded just outside the area, and a number of players clearly fancied their chances, but it was Pouv Samnang who stepped up and clipped a delightful free-kick over the wall and into the corner, leaving Kirivong keeper Kem Makara clutching at thin air.

Just five minutes later, Kirivong hit the post through Chukwumeka, and Phouchung broke straight from the rebound to nearly extend their lead, but for Heng Sokly heading wide when well-placed. They were made to pay two minutes before half-time, when Kirivong's Ly Ravy whipped in a wicked free-kick for Chukwumeka to get in front of his man and glance the ball into the far corner. There was still time left in the half for Phouchung keeper Sar Sophea to make a fantastic double save to ensure his side went in level at the interval.

Kirivong made all the early running in the second half. Some superb last-ditch defending from Phouchung's Tuy Sam kept the scores at one apiece, until a goal worthy of winning any game came just before the hour mark. Chukwumeka, who had been a constant threat, played the ball out to Mim Sophal on the right. The wideman then returned the favour by picking out the lanky Nigerian with his cross, and the winner was dispatched with a glorious volleyed back heel at the near post.

With the result, navy-affiliated Phouchung remained floundering at the foot of the table with just a solitary point from seven games, whereas Kirivong sprung up to second place overnight.

All photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)