Samdech Hun Sen Cup runners-up Build Bright United were jolted out of their senses by Metfone C-League novices Chhlam Samuth in a riveting contest of swiftly changing patterns that finished 3-2 at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
Joining the elite company through a three-team playoff to grab the place vacated by Khemara Keila, a heady mixture of erstwhile Navy team and Wat Phnom players proved a formidable force on the pitch.
Two of Chhlam Samuth’s Nigerian imports, Paul Olabode and Sanni Douda played their hearts out as a former national player Pov Samnang went on to demonstrate that advancing age does not affect a killer instinct. This lethal combination of midfield fluidity and frontal attacks brought the Shark’s three precious goals, Douda’s 25-yard scorcher sandwiched between a brilliant brace from Samnang.
The winning goal was one of sheer beauty in which the striker lost balance while taking his shot but still imparted the power in a sturdy sidestep stub that brooked no answer from BBU goalkeeper Hem Simay.
BBU, last year’s third place league finishers, got down to the business fairly quickly with an easily converted penalty by Oum Chandara. However, Bode was a force to be reckoned with in the centre of the park as he kept the supply moving swiftly and constantly, often spreading the ball wide.
On the break, BBU did well to snipe at the Chhlam Samuth goal but either the woodwork or a sturdy backline thwarted their attempts.
BBU briefly came back to the game with a 60th minute strike by Pech Sina but that was as far as they would be allowed to reach.
Chhlam Samuth’s solid performance should serve as warning shot to those who have been expressing doubts about the inherent strengths of a team that had been hurriedly assembled with no established stars to flaunt. This was the biggest upset among the five matches of the first round.
Army too gritty for Rithy Sen
For newly promoted Rithy Sen, a 6-0 mauling at the hands of National Defence Ministry (MND) yesterday came as a punishment for lethargic and sloppy defending.
The Army team’s frontline looked so sharp and menacing inside their opponent’s box during the second half that every move threatened a goal.
Yet MND had just a solitary goal to show before half time; a Thong Udom penalty conversion. Once the team had changed ends, however, the complexion completely changed.
Attacking midfielder Phlong Chanthou struck three critical blows to record his first hat-trick in the top flight. Soueng Chan Vanno chipped in with neat placement and Thong Udom returned to take the tally to a tennis score.
There was hardly anything that Rithy Sen could do to stem the rot, with merely the odd foray into the box that had absolutely no sting.