Naga Corp captain Om Thavrak (centre) gets a head on a cross past Phnom Penh Crown defenders during their Metfone C-League match at the Old Stadium yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Naga Corp’s inspired signing Julius Oiboh produced another magical brace as the former champions romped home 4-0 winners against title holders Phnom Penh Crown in a highly volatile Metfone C-League tie at the Old Stadium yesterday.
The victory, coming as it did on top of Naga’s shock defeat at the hands of Prek Pra Keila last week, catapulted the side to the top of the table on 19 points, one ahead of Ministry of National Defence, although Crown, currently on 17 points, have a game to play this weekend.
“I am very happy the team came good and we could play our normal game,” Naga coach Prak Sovanara said after the match. “The loss against Prek Pra rankles, but we have to get over it and move on.”
The contest was as good as sealed well before the breather as Naga shot to a fifth-minute lead and rapidly stretched it to four without reply.
The side’s new African recruit, Momoh Sumaila, showed his mettle during the first few moves on the left wing as he latched onto a loose ball and worked his way past a couple of defenders to find the mark on a very tight angle.
Within minutes of the strike, utter confusion between Crown goalkeeper Heng Bunchhay and deep defender San Narith helped Naga poach the second goal through Teab Vathanak.
With a 2-0 cushion, Oiboh burst on the scene with two meticulous solo efforts to break Crown's back.
Shockingly, the reigning league champions could count only a couple of corners and one gentle attempt by Kouch Sokumpheak in the whole first half.
It was clear that frustration was creeping into the Crown ranks as Naga took absolute control. In this most demanding phase of the match, the referee had a tough time imposing order on the field.
Defender San Narith was the first to attract the match offic-ial’s ire as a verbal argument followed a foul called on the player. As the dissent spread to several other players, Narith picked up his second caution and had to leave the pitch.
His sending-off merely compounded Crown’s agony and made it seemingly impossible for them to get back into the match. Approaching half time, Sokumpheak had a verbal duel with the referee, picking up a caution for his threatening behaviour.
Tensions boiled over to the second session as some Crown players began playing rough in the guise of playing tough.
Oiboh was painfully stubbed on the foot while chasing a ball and twice bundled out on hard tackles. There were notable infractions by Naga players as well, making supervision an extremely testing task.
Amid mounting pressure, Crown managed a few good breakaways, one of which ended in Soung Virak hitting the upright.
His own second attempt off the rebound was amazingly tipped over by Naga stopper Phorn Ratana, who held his line competently.
With time running out, striker Kingsley Metu’s angular shot on the run was inches wide, an affirmation that it was indeed a bad day at the office for Crown, who had just returned from their 4-0 loss in the Singapore Cup on Thursday night.
There were some half- chances for Naga to add one more to their tally, but they had to rest content with a dry second session.