As the national team endures yet another regional humiliation, the players inevitably return from that debacle in Manila for the rigorous grind of the Metfone C-League club duties this weekend featuring a card of five matches.
Title holders Boeung Ket Rubber Field have set a furious pace as the table toppers, winning their first five games with an impressive bag of 25 goals while conceding just four.
This is the kind of reputation and assailing form National Police have to deal with when they line up against the champions at 2pm on Sunday at Olympic Stadium.
But for Boeung Ket, playing National Police Commissary could be a lot tougher than any of the five teams they have met and mastered before. Except for those few moments of anguish against Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, the Kampong Cham-based side have had few or no worries against the rest.
Can Police, with just two wins and three draws behind them so far, rein in the free-striding front runners? They possibly can if they play to their known potential and throw a fire ring around the likes of Bisan George and Keo Sokngorn, while packing enough punch in their counters.
The Sunday crowd can reasonably expect a display of some colourful fireworks and excitement to go with it if Boeung Ket and Police bring out their best and go at each other’s throat.
The second fixture at 4pm which follows this high intensity clash, pits recent Hun Sen Cup winners NagaCorp against a somewhat disorientated Build Bright United, who have yet to win a game in six attempts so far this season and officially sacked their long-serving coach Meas Sam Oeun after their March 16 defeat by Kirivong.
With two wins and two draws, and that narrow loss to Preah Khan Reach, Naga are currently fifth in the standings with eight points, seven behind the pace. The twice champions have a lot of ground to make up before the end of the first batch of nine games.
On paper, Naga have little to fear from the tottering BBU form, but no game is not lost until it is won.
Saturday’s opening game at 2pm is a heavyweight division fight between Phnom Penh Crown and Preah Khan Reach.
The four-time league winners Crown missed out on the Super Four cut last year, but under a new coach and with new-found vigour, they are determined to fight their way back to the summit. On the leaderboard, Crown are four points behind Boeung Ket and one ahead of PKR.
There is always an air of excitement when these two sides meet. Some of their previous encounters have thrown up sensational twists and turns and there is a fierce rivalry that drives both sides.
Military Police-backed PKR, desperately looking for their maiden league triumph, got out of a form freeze that had beset them by pulling off a slender but deserving win over Naga. That victory has put the smiles back on their faces and the mood in the camp is now decidedly upbeat.
The winless Ministry of National Defence, who had a fairly good Cup run, find themselves shockingly at the bottom of the league table in the company of Senate Secretariat. The Army side take on Asia Europe University at 4pm on Saturday, desperate to break their duck.
In the weekend’s only match playing at the Old Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, visitors from Takeo, Kirivong, who are sixth in the standings with eight points, will be up against bottom of the table Senate, who have squeezed just one draw into their five defeats.