National Police Commissary’s Srey Udom (L) takes a shot during their Hun Sen Cup final phase group stage match against Western University at Olympic Stadiu, Thursday, Jan. 03, 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
The seventh Samdech Hun Sen Cup recorded its second shock result of the final phase group stage in as many weeks, with three-time tournament runners-up Naga Corp slumping to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of qualifiers Khan Chamkarmon yesterday at Olympic Stadium.
The upset echoed that of reigning champions Preah Khan Reach, who were beaten 3-1 by Europe University the previous Thursday.
A frenetic start saw Chamkarmon go ahead in the fourth minute via a Sun Menghort header off a corner kick. Naga were clearly startled and took a while to find their way back into the game as the Phnom Penh district club dominated the opening exchanges.
The first few attacks from Naga, who won their first Group A game 10-0 two weeks ago, resulted in a string of sublime saves by Chamkarmon keeper Kha Theara.
The underdogs were content with staying back and hitting their Metfone C-League rivals on the break, a tactic that worked to perfection when a punt upfield was collected by Srey Vandeth, who beat the offside trap and then took it around Naga keeper Phorn Ratana to find the empty net.
The second half was all one way traffic as Naga laid siege to their opposition’s goal, getting increasingly desperate to score.
Chamkamorn were doing everything in their power to run down the clock, which included extending breaks for injury, passing back to the goalkeeper – and often just hoofing the ball as far away from their own backline as possible.
It was this simple yet effective approach along with the outstanding performance from Kha Theara, who made at least ten spectacular saves in the second session alone, which got Chamkarmon past the winning post.
While Naga officials were too exasperated to give comment after the match, former head coach Prak Sovannara, who now leads the national team, told the Post: “Chamkarmon’s first goal seemed lucky. It was very early in the game and Naga Corp were caught on the wrong foot.
“Afterwards, the district team played a tactically clever game, but Naga played by far the better football. I am surprised how much better the non-Metfone C-League teams are becoming.”
Yesterday’s late kick-off at Olympic Stadium featured a fiercely contested game between Western University and National Police Commissary, which eventually saw the latter emerge 6-2 victors.
Both sides began with an attack-oriented mindset which resulted in many scoring opportunities. Western took the initiative and managed to hold on to their slender advantage until the interval.
Almost instantly after the restart, however, the Police drew things back level with a perfectly executed flag kick headed in by Say Pisith. A draw seemed fair to both teams as the match dragged on, with both playing at an extremely high level without ceding ground to the other.
It wasn’t until the last third of the game that things began to unravel, in no small part down to the sterling work of Police’s Nov Soseila along the left flank.
In the 65th minute, Norn Borey scored with yet another header to start Western’s apparent capitulation.
The next five minutes had Police scoring two more goals from Sim Vutha and Srey Udom, both assisted by Soseila.
A headed goal by Western’s Uch Chamroeun off a set piece did little to stem the tide. National team player Soseila capped his star performance with a goal of his own, while a late penalty kick by Srey Udom rounded off the rout.
There were no such surprises in the games playing over at Old Stadium, with Build Bright United defeating the Kampot provincial side 8-1 in their Group B tie followed by an 11-0 walkover of Kratie by 2010 Cup winners Ministry of National Defence.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Derbuc at [email protected]