Few fightbacks in recent memory could have had such an effect on Boeung Ket as last Saturday’s 4-4 draw in Hanoi against Sanna Khanh Hoa FC in the Toyota Mekong Club Championship curtain-raiser.
The team returned transformed and out to capitalise on that captivating first-leg performance when they host V.League 1 rivals at the Olympic Stadium in the second leg tonight, with kick-off at 7pm.
At stake is a place in the semi-finals against Lao Toyota, but even just for pride, neither side will be giving up without a fight – not after the way they gunned for each other goal-for-goal.
At the conventional pre-match joint media conference yesterday the coaches of both sides stuck to the normal courtesy of avoiding predictions, only going as far as to say that both hoped for positive result.
For his part, Vo Dinh Tan broadly hinted that Sanna had the upperhand especially after the third Youssouf Torre goal, but he was also generous in his praise for the way the visitors fought back.
Boeung Ket’s caretaker coach Hav Socheat said he could not have been made prouder by the gutsy performance of his team given that they were chasing to get even all the way.
With four away goals in their favour adding to the advantage of familiar turf in much cooler climes, Boeung Ket may enjoy a slight edge if Hanoi hero Maycon Calijuri and his able ally Samuel Ajayi get going.
But above all this, one piece of cheery news making the round this morning in the Boeung Ket camp is the return of the precocious striker Chan Vathanaka to the fold after his on-loan stint with Japan’s third-tier side Fujieda MYFC.
The 23-year-old Vathanaka arrived back in Phnom Penh a few days ago after spending nearly a year with Fujieda, occasionally making appearances for the national side.
He was never played full-time in a match for Fujieda and was used mostly as a substitute.
Boeung Ket are hoping that CV11, as Vathanaka is fondly called in local football circles, will make a crucial difference in what is to be a tough game to call.