Boeung Ket turn their attention to defending their Metfone C-League title on Sunday with a demanding match against Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng at Olympic Stadium after a midweek defeat to Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim in the AFC Cup.
The Rubbermen were drawn to meet runners-up National Defence Ministry in the season opener last week but the fixture was put on hold for the continental cup action.
Johor outplayed Boeung Ket 3-0 in a Group F tie to kick-start their campaign to regain the AFC Cup they won in 2015.
The Malaysia Super League champions enjoyed the lion’s share of possession on their home pitch at the Dato Haji Yunos Stadium in Johor Baru on Tuesday, scoring twice in the first 11 minutes of the game and adding another to the tally late in the second half.
Recent Argentine addition Gabriel Guerra was on target three minutes into the game after working his way inside the box, and eight minutes later Mohammad Nazmi beat goalkeeper Sou Yaty. Last year’s beaten semifinalists then went on to round off the tally late in the game through a Safiq Rahim header.
With Khuon Laboravy providing the occasional spark, much of Boeung Ket’s counters were inspired by Tomoki Muramutsu but the visitors could not break through.
In the other Group F tie, the Philippines’ Global FC defeated Magwe FC of Myanmar 1-0.
Boeung Ket manager Be Makara said after the defeat: “Johor are a strong team. They won the the AFc Cup in 2015. They have won the Malaysian league three times in a row and are reigning champions.
“Three-nil is a big loss but it is not a disgrace because we are new to this level, playing against teams of this standard with much experience of this competition. We are disappointed because we conceded two quick goals. It is difficult to come back from that.
“We created chances but couldn’t finish them. But we can take confidence from this kind of performance against such a strong side.”
Head coach John McGlynn’s side are going through a rebuilding phase following the departure of several players who contributed to last season’s success, most notably hotshot striker Chan Vathanaka, who has moved to Japan on a season’s loan.
Svay Rieng, who come into this contest on the back of a 2-1 win at home against Kirivong Sok Sen Chey last week, have the ability to trouble the best.
In two other matches carded for Sunday, new entrants Electricite du Cambodge face National Police at the Svay Rieng Stadium, while AEU, squarely beaten by Phnom Penh Crown, meet Kampong Chnnang-based Cambodian Mines Action Centre, who drew with Cambodia Tiger FC.
The highlight of Saturday’s three-match program will be the twilight clash at the Olympic Stadium of former champions NagaWorld and Phnom Penh Crown, who between them account for eight league titles.
Both sides turned in winning performances last week, with Naga’s Rwandan striker Atuheire Kipson on song against EDC with all four goals in the side’s 4-1 win.
Six-time champions Crown also opened the season emphatically, with a 3-1 win over Asia Europe United.
Western v Kirivong, Western Stadium, 3pm
Cambodia Tiger v Army, Siem Reap Stadium, 3pm
NagaWorld v Crown, Olympic Stadium, 6pm (live on BTV)
AEU v CMAC, Old Stadium, 3pm
Boeung Ket v Svay Rieng, Olympic Stadium, 6pm (live on BTV
EDC v National Police, Svay Rieng Stadium, 6pm