After preliminary regional and group stages, the official draw for the double-leg quarterfinals of the coveted Hun Sen Cup, the Kingdom’s only open football tournament, was held on Tuesday, with the bottom half throwing up matchups of intensity and intrigue among the Kingdom’s heavyweights.
Among quarterfinalists, four are previous winners, while Boeung Ket will be itching to land the trophy to complement their league dominance, with third place in 2014 being their best Cup finish.
Old Stadium will be the venue for what could be the most interesting clash between Ministry of National Defense and Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng, given the fierce rivalry between the two sides and the unprecedented bust-up on the pitch during a Metfone C-League game recently involving players and officials that led to a slew of fines and suspensions for both sides.
But that deep-rooted intensity between the two sides was at its best when Army edged out Svay Rieng 6-5 on penalties in the final two years ago for their first ever triumph in the tournament.
Svay Rieng bounced back in style last year, easily getting the measure of NagaWorld in a 3-0 final victory to become the only club to have won the trophy four times since its inception in 2007.
Heading into the first leg on August 1, Svay Rieng’s form has been so spotty that they are almost unrecognisable from the team that led the league for so long last season, while Army had to dig deep on Sunday to grab an equaliser at the death to deny Western their first win.
However, league form will not hardly be a factor as the sides set their sights on the Cup.
Boeung Ket faces Naga
The quarters pit defending league champs and this year’s clear frontrunners Boeung Ket against rivals NagaWorld, who have been beaten no less than five times in the final, including a heartbreaking 4-2 loss as NagaCorp to the now defunct Khmera Keila in a penalty shootout in the Cup’s first ever final in 2007.
While Naga’s only triumph in the tournament came in 2013 via penalties against Army, the team has not been able to build on that success.
In the first two last-eight matches, Angkor Tiger will face Phnom Penh Crown, while National Police will go up against the Koh Kong U18 Academy side.
All four first leg quarterfinal matches will be played on August 1 with the second legs slated for August 8.