Phnom Penh Crown grab a goal late on to progress to the quarterfinals of the Samdech Hun Sen Cup, and Wat Phnom teaches Mekong Uni a free lesson
Phnom Penh Crown's Keo Sokngorn (centre) fires a shot past Phouchung Neak captain Khun Khoun (left) during their last 16 match of the Samdech Hun Sen Cup on Saturday.
Though the result was never really in doubt, reigning champions Phnom Penh Crown were made to play a waiting game before finally securing their passage into the quarterfinals of the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup on Saturday at Olympic Stadium.
The Navy boys from Phouchung Neak had a game plan: Tackle hard, battle for everything, and don’t give Crown any time on the ball. It worked for 85 minutes, as the Cup favourites were frustrated by their opponents’ tactics.
Crown dominated possession throughout, but found Phouchung a tough nut to crack, typified by their skipper Khun Khoun, who kept the Crown striking pair of Chan Chhaya and Srey Veasna quiet and also managed to make two goalline clearances in the first half to keep it goalless.
Crown’s young midfield maestro, Keo Sokngorn, his head bandaged after a clash in the first half, was the standout player over the 90 minutes. His probing passes, surging runs, cute flicks and skill on the ball was a cut above anyone else, and a flash of brilliance on 66 minutes saw his 25-yard drive cannon off the crossbar. Two minutes later his quick feet in the box simply dazzled the two defenders trying to muzzle him, but his shot was tipped aside by keeper Thai Sineth.
Five bookings amply demonstrated the Navy side’s determined approach, though they also mastered the offside trap well, catching Crown’s straying strikers repeatedly.
On 70 minutes, Crown introduced Phouchung old boy Heng Sok Ly into the fray. The baby-faced striker was the Navy’s top-scoring and most impressive player last term.
Clad in his new team’s colours, he quickly set about sinking his former club, and succeeded with just five minutes of the game to go.
More wing-play wizardry from Keo Sokngorn and an inch-perfect cross found Heng Sokly to steer the ball home for the match-winner.
Mekong Kampuchea University’s Lem Ridath (left) vies with Wat Phnom’s Phoeun Saorum at Olympic Stadium Saturday.
In time added on, Phouchung bundled the ball into the Crown net, with their first chance of the game, but a linesman’s flag ruled out the effort for offside. After a brief melee, the referee blew his whistle to send Crown through to the next round.
Nuy Sam An, assistant coach of Phnom Penh Crown, was unconvinced but satisfied with the victory. “We need to strengthen for the next round,” he remarked.
Crown manager Be Makara also showed displeasure at the result. “We didn’t play good enough today. Some of my boys liked to keep the ball without passing to other colleagues. Our opponents were not too strong, but with this [bad] habit we lost many chances to score more goals,” the manager noted.
Heng Sok Ly was happy to net the winning goal, but admitted an awkward feeling for ousting his former side. “Playing against a team I used to play for is difficult, especially emotionally,” he stated. “But as a footballer, I wear Phnom Penh Crown’s shirt, so I have to do my best for my current team. On the field, I don’t show mercy towards anyone, but we are still good friends when we don’t play.”
Wat Phnom 10 – Mekong K Uni 1
There was no David and Goliath upset in this woefully one-sided affair, as Wat Phnom took control from kickoff to put their collegiate opponents to the sword in emphatic style.
Wat Phnom netted two goals in the first eight minutes through Tes Vatanak and Put Savuth, although Mekong Uni briefly rallied midway through the first half with a neat goal by Em Thun. Wat Phnom then extended their lead before the interval, and knocked in a stunning seven in the second half.
Two Wat Phnom players grabbed hat tricks. Srei Vandeth most impressively came off the bench on 64 minutes, and within 11 minutes he’d bagged his three goals. Ry Phearoeun was the other goal machine, scoring two late goals to add to his first half-pile driver. Wat Phnom’s other second-half goals came from Leang Sok Samnang and Phlong Chanthou as the one-way traffic overwhelmed their young opposition.
“I admire the performance of my players,” stated Phoeun Bunthoeun, assistant coach of Wat Phnom. “They had good cooperation. However, Mekong Kampuchea University are a young side. We will face the big team Phnom Penh Crown in the quarterfinals, so we need to work hard and I hope that my players will keep up their work rate to overcome this obstacle.”
Hat-trick hero Srey Vandeth was ecstatic to make such a resounding impact straight after coming off the bench, but also paid tribute to his teammates. “We couldn’t reach the next round only because of me. All of us understood each other very well, and we played by following the plan of the coaches.
“Now we have to prepare for the next game. We don’t know what will happen in the match between Phnom Penh Crown and us, but we need to do the best for our side.”
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)